As the NFL train heads for the NFC Championship, one passenger looks strangely familiar to us. We’ve seen him before and haven’t really given him his due as how great he’s actually becoming. Do you realize thanks to last week; Eli Manning is the only quarterback in NFL history to defeat two different teams with 15 regular season wins?? He was the quarterback of the Super Bowl XLII upset of the 16-0 New England Patriots, and now conquered the 15-1 Packers last week in Lambeau. Is it time we consider him great?? We know…get up off the floor and consider this; he has more signature playoff wins than his celebrated brother Peyton. In fact he’s the tougher quarterback between the two.
Stop and think of the signature games Eli has in his back pocket. Everyone remembers the run to the Super Bowl in 2007 especially the Dallas Cowboys. Remember that group?? An emerging Tony Romo and Terrell Owens sparkled as they ran to an NFC best 13-3 record and the championship of the Eastern Division. Then in a frigid Lambeau Field took down the 13-3 Green Bay in Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer. The most startling fact were these two games and the Super Bowl that year were all of these teams beat Eli and the Giants in their first meeting. Something the 49ers should take solace in since they defeated Manning’s Giants 27-20 in November.
Last weekend propelled Alex Smith into a higher echelon of quarterbacks, yet where did the 37-20 defeat of the Packers propel Eli?? We have to remember he is already a Super Bowl winning quarterback although the sporting press doesn’t cover him like one. He isn’t coddled like his brother when it comes to his short comings. Think about it for a second…. Had Eli Manning thrown a 4th quarter interception to seal his team’s fate in a Super Bowl you would never hear the end of it. We hardly hear of his triumph in Super Bowl XLII, he’s treated like a supporting actor to the upset itself or even David Tyree’s helmet catch. Neither of which could have taken place without Eli’s heroics. If you can remember Eli had to break free of two linemen and scrambled before throwing that famous pass to Tyree.
With a win this week, Manning will have his 7th playoff win and second Super Bowl appearance. He has a 5-3 record in the playoffs and get this he’s 5-1 away from home in the playoffs including the Super Bowl, for his career. Contrast that against Peyton’s 3-6 record away from home in the playoffs, which includes a 41-0 devastating loss to the New York Jets. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/200301040nyj.htm Understand Eli doesn’t have a lopsided postseason loss to that degree on his resume’. It also needs to be reiterated he just missed becoming the 4th quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards this year with 4,933, while throwing for 29TDs to just 16 interceptions. You’re starting to get the feeling that he will win this road game and advance to his second Super Bowl.
No one even comes close to his road post season record. He’s quiet and tremendously unassuming off the field. Yet it’s at this moment we have to anoint him to that of a great quarterback on the precipice of his second Super Bowl. You’d think that the coddling the media has given his brother would have rubbed off on him. That it hasn’t has given him a thicker skin and stronger resolve. The same as being a younger brother getting beat up by his older brother’s Peyton and Cooper.
If Aaron Rodgers ascended to greatness with last year’s postseason, where will that leave Eli if he’s able to pull it off for a second time?? An NFC showdown against the formidable (13-3) 49ers awaits. Yet nothing has rattled a quarterback who has bested 4 teams with that same record or better for his postseason career. Before this championship he ascended to becoming a great quarterback with the win over the Green Bay Packers. With a win in San Francisco he’ll cement it. Can he pull it off?? We’re not betting against the “silent killer”.
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