New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has had some playoff magic in the past, but are we overrating his entire playoff tenure?
The Giants start their 2016 playoff campaign at a familiar place. Both their 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl runs went through Lambeau Field against the Packers. And both of those games were instant classics that featured some of Eli Manning’s best performances.
But can that “playoff” Eli show up again this Sunday?
Manning has had a reputation of being an average regular season quarterback and an elite playoff quarterback. His playoff record of 8-3 and two Super Bowl MVPs support that claim.
Manning’s Playoff Career
In Manning’s debated career, he’s made the playoffs five times. In those five appearances, the Giants have been knocked out in their first game three times.
What happened in the other two appearances? Just ask the Patriots.
Perhaps, the title “Playoff” Eli is a little far-fetched.
His play late in the regular season tends to carry into the postseason. If Manning has a poor outing in Week 17, he’s more likely to have a poor playoff game as well. In the 2005 finale, Manning completed only 12 of 24 attempts for 204 yards before his debut postseason game.
The result? A shutout loss at home against the Panthers.
In the 2006 finale against the Redskins, running back Tiki Barber bailed Manning out of a measly 12-of-26, 101-yard passing performance with a 234-yard rushing performance.
The result in the Wild Card round the next week? The Giants fell to the Eagles 23-20 and Manning couldn’t throw for 200 yards.
The chain curved in the 2007 finale when Manning threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns against the undefeated Patriots in a heart-pounding 38-35 loss. The result? Manning went on one of the best stretches of his career, leading the Giants to perhaps the most improbable championship in recent sports history.
The following season the Giants had home field advantage locked up for their season finale with the Vikings. As a result, Manning didn’t play a majority of the game, but he did go 11-of-19 for 119 yards.
The Giants lost to the Eagles two weeks later. In that game, Manning threw two interceptions.
In the 2011 season finale, Manning caught fire. He threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-14 route of the Cowboys. This game, similar to the 2007 Patriots finale, sparked Manning to lead another historic playoff surge to an NFL championship.
If Manning’s regular season finale’s performance is an indicator of his playoff performance, what should we expect Sunday in Green Bay?
Last week, in a meaningless game against the Redskins, Manning was 17-of-27 for 180 yards. His play wasn’t overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination and he missed some routine throws.
However, we should take into consideration that the offensive game plan relied heavily on the run. The goal was to show teams that the Giants could run the ball so that defenses could push their two safeties up. If that happens, expect Manning to light up the depleted Packers secondary.
We saw it happen Sunday when Manning hit Tavarres King for a clutch 44-yard completion.
The Giants’ playoff chances rely on the experience and unpredictability of Manning’s playoff magic. Let’s hope his Week 17 performance doesn’t fully carry over into Sunday’s game at Lambeau.