Eli Manning had a very succinct message for his New York Giants teammates Monday afternoon.
"We have to grow up," Manning said when asked how the Giants overcome Sunday's disaster in Philadelphia -- both the loss to the Eagles and the season-ending injury to wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Manning was talking mostly about the development of the offense and finding a way to replace Cruz. But the quarterback's comment could also be taken as a message to teammates about things like talking too much, doing foolish things like stomping on the opposing team's logo during pre-game warm-ups and losing your composure and committing unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after the whistle has blown.
Giants quarterbacks were sacked eight times (Manning six and Ryan Nassib two). The Giants were shut out after averaging 35 points in their previous three games. What happened?
"Everybody took a little bit of a step back last night from the offense. It is not just the offensive line. They had some sacks, but some of those were on me for holding the ball. Some of those are on receivers [who] have to get open and do their jobs. Some were on the running backs picking up their protection, so it is a combination of the whole offense having to do a better job. I have to get the ball out quicker some and the offensive line has to play better as well. It is a little bit of everybody," Manning said. "It is tough. We had a lot of penalties. I think with our third downs, we had way too many. I think we had 10 third downs over 10 yards, thirrd and 15's and third and 20's. We just can't live in that world. That is going to be tough vs. a good defensive front.
"That is football. Sometimes you have those games where nothing seems to go quite your way. You have too many mistakes. You keep going backwards. You make things tough on yourself. That is what we had last night and we have to learn from it and grow from it. Sometimes you have a bad game and you can easily turn that around and get back to playing good football like we were three weeks prior."
Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants longest-tenured defensive player, also used the "grow up" phrase when talking about what the Giants need to do now.
"Every season is different. Every team is different. It is a growing phase, especially when you have a lot of new guys coming together. It is a growing phase we are going through right now. I feel like in the past couple weeks we have done some good things. Then we came back and had a game like this," Kiwanuka said. "I think this is a turning point in the season. This is something we are going to have to grow up from real quick and make sure we get the ship right. The story about the season has not been written yet, and I feel like as long as we come back out this week ready, prepared and enthusiastic about getting a win, then we will change that perception of us."