Eli Manning On The Giants Slim Playoff Hopes
Q: When you saw the scenario that has to fall into place in order for you to make the playoffs, what was your thought at seeing that?
A: I knew there was going to be a chance. I’m obviously disappointed that this is what we have to rely on now, but that’s the position we’re in now. If anything, you want to try to play, if the season is going to end, you want to try to end it on the highest note possible. At least go out there and play better football than we have over the last two weeks. Just play at a level that we know we can, have the chance to win a game and have some excitement in the locker room and have something that we can be proud about and see how the other games turn out. I can guarantee the worst feeling that we could possibly have is if we go out there and don’t play at a high level and all of those teams lose that we need to and we don’t handle our business. All we can do is worry about improving our own performance and get back to playing solid football.
Q: Are you at all surprised with the way the season has gone after last season’s Super Bowl run?
A: Each season is a new year. You’re going to be faced with different challenges and so I would obviously hope for better things and I thought we got off to a good start. We just haven’t played at a high level over the last two weeks that we needed to. You have to play your best football at the end of the season, especially for those in playoff contention, for playoff chances, you have to put yourself in the best possible position to be playing great football. We haven’t done that. We haven’t put ourselves in a position to win these last two games. That’s just disappointing, that’s frustrating, you try to search for reasons. There are just too many either missed opportunities, or just bad plays, or we’re going backwards. Just not giving us the chance to hang in games, to get into the fourth quarter with the chance to make the plays there to win the game.
Q: When you look at these last two games in particular, why do you think the offense wasn’t able to sustain drives at any level? Whether it was to give the defense a break, or put points on the board.
A: This past game, we were down 14 and we had a really good drive. We hit a deep pass over the middle, had a couple of other good plays. David Wilson runs it in to make it a 14-7 game. The next series, we hit a good play to Hixon on the sideline, we were backed up a little bit. It seems like we’re driving, and then we take a sack. We lose 15 yards on the sack and now you’re on 2nd and 25, which is tough. We had another time when we were driving and we got a holding call that backs us up. Then we throw a deep ball to Hixon that would have had a chance for us to be in scoring position, there we get offensive pass interference and it backs you up. Whether it’s a penalty here or there, or a sack, or just enough bad plays to make it tough to overcome in those situations, you get 3rd and 15-plus, it’s hard to convert all of those. I think that was part of it. Just had some sacks, had too many negative plays that it was hard to overcome.
Q: Coach Coughlin said he feels like the team as a whole just isn’t making plays. Does it feel like anything has changed from last year that is causing the lack of big plays?
A: No. We’re not making it easy on ourselves. It’s just tough sometimes. Things aren’t the same. Not quite as open, not quite as easy, everything is a little tougher. I don’t think there is an exact reason. We’ve got some guys banged up, obviously, who are showing great toughness. You love the competiveness, the hanging in there and being there for the team. It can be tough when you’ve got four or five guys who don’t practice much during the week, if at all, and then show up on game day. Again, you love the toughness, you love the competiveness, you love the team attitude and doing whatever it takes. It’s hard to continue to play at a high level sometimes.
Q: When you look at your relationship with Hakeem on the field, is there a way to characterize it in a percentage or in a gut feeling that you have, in terms of where he has been this year, because of his injuries?
A: It can be tough. I love Hakeem and the way he competes. He’s doing everything he can to be out there. He’s obviously dealing with a frustrating issue that’s limiting him a little bit. He’s out there trying to do his best, so we just have to keep working, try to get on the same page. He missed most of training camp, all of the off-season, so you don’t get that rep time. We don’t get practice reps. He gets a few reps, he’s not quite at full-speed. The timing is off on a few things and it can make it hard to be as effective as you need to be and be on the perfect timing that is required to be really successful.
Q: In the locker room yesterday, it seemed like a lot of guys had already conceded the season. How do you guys get re-focused to play that final game with the intensity that you need?
A: I think we’ll be focused and we’ll be ready to play. It’s the last game. We’re football players, it’s the last game of the regular season. This is our job. It doesn’t matter if you’re 0-15 or you’re 15-0, you prepare and you play. You try to play at the highest level that you can. I’ve got great confidence, from just talking to the offensive guys, we’re going to get after it. We’re going to compete, we’re going to prepare this week and we’re going to plan to go out there and play our best. Whether it’s our last game and if everything falls the way we want it to. Even if it is the last game, let’s end it on a high note. Let’s end it playing better football and at least you have something to be proud of. It’s something that you take into the off-season not feeling bad that you’ve gone out and you haven’t played well for three games in a row. Obviously, that’s what we can do and that’s all you can worry about. This is the circumstance that we’re in. The worst feeling you could have is if all of those teams lose and we don’t handle our business and we lose. You never know what can happen, it’s a crazy game, it’s a crazy sport. Obviously, the scenarios are very possible. It’s not like a bunch of huge upsets have to happen. These are three divisional games being played and in the division, you never know what might occur.
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