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Manning on Manning: Peyton Manning breaks down Eli’s play vs. 49ers

You’re probably not going to see this again

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Peyton Manning breaking down game film of Eli Manning for public consumption? Does it get any better than that if you love to study quarterback play, or if you’re a New York Giants fan?

Probably not. Peyton Manning has been doing a series called ‘Detail’ for ESPN+ in which he breaks down the play of a different quarterback in a specific game each week. I have been fascinated, and educated, by the work. I have to admit, though, not in a million years did I think Peyton would go anywhere near breaking down one of his little brother’s games.

That, though, is exactly what he did in the latest installment of the ‘Detail’ series, breaking down Eli’s work in the Giants’ 27-23 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Call it hypocritical if you want for Peyton to chose a game the Giants won, and one in which there were a number of positive plays from Eli for him to focus on. If that’s your take, so be it. It’s fascinating, informative work regardless.

Peyton acknowledged that Eli provided him with his “greatest football moment.”

“Being there as a spectator might be the greatest football moment for me … to see your younger brother throw a game-winning touchdown to win the Super Bowl, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Let’s get to some of the takeaways.

Was Odell really uncovered?

The third-and-goal play where Manning handed the ball to Saquon Barkley on an inside run, a move that backfired with Odell Beckham Jr. appearing to be uncovered in the slot is where we have to start.

Eli Manning has taken a lot of heat for the decision, including from yours truly. Peyton defended killing the pass play and going run because the San Francisco safeties are deep and the middle linebacker is trying to bait Eli into a throw to Beckham. “The point is this is a pass defense. They are playing the pass,” Peyton said.

“I know Odell probably looks open there but that middle linebacker’s gonna go out there and kinda try to bait Eli if it’s a pass play,” Peyton said.

“Eli killed the pass to the run b/c that was the read. If you see zone coverage and you have a good run look let’s kill it to the run. This really ought to be a touchdown here because those safeties are so soft … if the Giants got a guy (blocker) off to that middle linebacker Barkley scores a touchdown. Instead, a miscommunication. That’s what happens when you have new players playing.”

You will see that through whatever lens you want, but it’s an interesting take from a guy who knows more about quarterback play than just about anyone on the planet.

“Talent throws”

That is what Peyton said Eli made on a second quarter third-and-9 11-yard completion to Corey Coleman.

Peyton said by the coverage this ball should likely have been checked down to Barkley on the swing route.

“Coaches were probably saying no, no, no. Great throw, way to fit it in there,” Peyton said.

“Every now and then you gotta make arm throws, talent throws, fit ‘em in vs. tight coverage. E Mann does this right there and keeps this drive alive.”

The two-minute drive

Peyton opened the episode by saying the primary reason he reviewed this game was because he wanted to study a game-winning two-minute drive.

For him, there were two plays that stood out.

First, the 31-yard completion to Evan Engram that brought the ball from the Giants’ 25-yard line to the San Francisco 46-yard line with 2:43 to play.

Peyton called it a “cool play” with Engram faking as though he would be lead blocking on a screen for Barkley. He also credited Beckham for running hard on his vertical clear-out route, taking cornerback Richard Sherman with him.

Second, Peyton loved the angle route to Barkley that took the ball from the 49ers’ 35-yard line to the 12 with 1:27 left.

“Oh what a great call here at the perfect time,” he said.

Peyton also credited little brother with a great throw.

“I know it’s a short throw and you’re gonna say he’s kissing his butt because it’s his brother and related to it. If this was Bob Avellini, Steve Fuller or Casey Weldon making this throw, guys that I’m not related to, this is a good throw. This is a sidearm throw negotiating the defender,” Peyton said.

“This is a runner’s ball, a runner’s ball. Hit it to him where he can keep running.”

That winning feeling

Peyton said the game-winning 3-yard throw to Sterling Shepard was “awesome stuff” from both the quarterback and receiver.

Peyton added that there is no better feeling in football than winning a game like that on the road.

“There is nothing like a two-minute drill to win the game on the road. It’s just better. It’s just better on the road, I can’t explain it,” Peyton said. “There’s nothing better than a plane right after a win, but a plane ride after a two-minute drill with a game-winning touchdown there’s nothing like it.”

Take from this whatever you will. I just thought it was a really rare opportunity worth sharing and discussing.