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“Special day, special win” for Eli Manning in front of Giants’ fans at MetLife Stadium

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Was this farewell? If so, it was a feel-good way for Manning to finish

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning deserved this.

After 16 years, two Super Bowl titles, a host of franchise records and recently too many years of suffering as the quarterback of a bad football team it didn’t seem like too much to hope that on Sunday Manning would get an opportunity to celebrate with teammates and family, and be celebrated by fans at MetLife Stadium.

Manning, the Giants, and Giants fans all delivered on Sunday as the Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins, 36-20.

Manning called it a “special day, special win.”

It was also one that included a lot of moments that he both appreciated, and that made him uncomfortable.

With fans chanting “Eli Manning” and “Thank you, Eli,” Shurmur chose to replace Manning with Alex Tanney (see, this is why Tanney has been on the roster all season) with 1:50 left in a game that had already been decided.

“The ability to put him in and then take him out where he could be recognized by the fans, that was great,” said coach Pat Shurmur.

The Manning-bration started with a standing ovation from fans in attendance when the Giants’ offense took the field for the first time. There were increasing “Eli Manning” and “Thank you, Eli” chants as it became obvious in the fourth quarter that the Giants were going to win.

“Obviously, I don’t know what the future is. I don’t know what lies next week, let alone down the road,” Manning said. “Obviously, the support and the fans, their ovation, chanting my name from the first snap to the end, I appreciate that. I appreciate them always and all my teammates coming up to me. It’s a special day, a special win and one I’ll remember.”

This was a victory that evened Manning’s career regular-season record as a starter at 117-117. There have, obviously been bigger victories for Manning. This one, though, was one for everyone involved to cherish.

In typical Manning style, he talked about how badly he wanted a victory on Sunday for his teammates.

“I think it was huge. The way the season is going, the way these last 10 or 11 weeks have gone, the team obviously needed a win just for morale and to keep things going. It’s tough to go every week, be close, to compete and practice hard. Guys are giving great effort and doing a lot of good things, we’re just falling a little short. But today, we obviously were able to put it all together,” Manning said. “Just proud of the guys. I know they all wanted to get me a win, and I wanted to get them a win as well.”

Manning, though no one had told him. knew he was coming out on the Giants’ final possession.

“I saw some of the coaches kind of gathering up and discussing something. It’s not my first rodeo, so I had a feeling that something might be happening,” he said.

When it did happen, Manning said he “tried not to get too emotional just because we still have a couple football games left.”

He knows the Giants have two games left. He knows he might have to play because there is no guarantee the Giants will deem Daniel Jones healthy enough to resume the starting job before the season is over.

“I know I’ll still be back in the stadium. I don’t know if I’ll play that day, but I know I’ll get to run out one more time at least. But still excited. Excited for the win and an honor if it is the last one playing here where I’m starting and getting a win.”

Manning finished the game 20 of 28 for 283 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and three interceptions. It wasn’t clean and it wasn’t pretty. In the end, though, it was a victory.

“I thought he played a great game. He made a lot of great plays. Certainly, everybody will point to some of the bad plays— which were the interceptions. But I was really pleased with the way he led us and got us in the end zone, was real good with the run game stuff, making sure we were in the right run,” Shurmur. “He sort of played an Eli Manning type game in my mind and helped lead us to victory.

It left Manning smiling. It left teammates happy to have been a part of it.

“See you on Wednesday”

Manning gave teammates an unusual pre-game speech that teammates said included a surprising expletive. Manning downplayed that, saying “ I don’t think a pregame speech has ever won a football game before. I still don’t think it has.”

He also left teammates with a post-game parting gift, tossing out a “See you on Wednesday” after being given the game ball. That gave Shurmur no choice but to give the Giants a Victory Monday off day.

The embattled coach, who needs as many victories as he can muster if he has any hope of saving his job, wasn’t in any position to argue.

“Typically I don’t do that, but today I won’t argue with him,” Shurmur said.

Why would he?

It’s been a miserable season for the Giants. Mostly, it’s been a miserable few years as Manning’s historic Giants’ career has wound down.

Sunday, though, was a feel-good day.

If it’s the last time we see Manning behind center it was a nice way to finish.