Eli Manning knows what it’s like to be in playoff races, to win two Super Bowls, so he has no trouble keeping things in perspective after nine games.
Odell Beckham Jr? He’s never been to the playoffs but he’s already talking Super Bowl LI.
The Giants are 6-3 for the first time since 2012 and they have won four in a row for the first time since 2013. Their six victories have come by a total of just 21 points, including Monday night’s 21-20 victory over the Bengals, their second one-point victory of the season.
But after four straight years out of the playoffs, Manning is taking nothing for granted. After not making the playoffs his first two years in the NFL, Beckham is virtually beside himself visualizing where this season is headed.
“Who are these Giants?” Steve Young asked Beckham on ESPN’s on-field set after the game.
“Really tell you?” Beckham said.
“Yeah, I want to know,” Young said.
“We’re really looking forward to Feb. 5 in Houston,” Beckham said with a huge smile on his face. “That’s the goal obviously. I probably said that the past two or three years since I’ve been in the league. I feel real confident in this team. This defense is a Super Bowl defense. This is a playoff defense. The offense, we’re working to get better each and every day.”
Olivier Vernon brings down Andy Dalton late in the fourth quarter as the Giants defense continues to make big plays.
Beckham, who reached 3,500 yards receiving in his 35th game, the fastest in NFL history, had 10 catches for 97 yards and a TD with the debut of his
Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance. The Giants have missed the playoffs in the four seasons since winning the Super Bowl in 2011. That got Tom Coughlin dismissed.
They have a new identity with Ben McAdoo, which was on display Monday night when he told Manning on the switch between the third and fourth quarters that the Giants were in four-down territory when they had a second-and-9 at the Bengals 9. “He wants to be aggressive,” Manning said.
That took the pressure off Manning to force something to score on second or third down. He knew he would have four downs to play with and could minimize his risks.
On second down, he called a check at the line and then threw to the wrong side of Will Tye. “I had a little mental collapse,” he said. “My hands and my mind weren’t on the same page. I screwed up second down. He picked up six yards on a third-down pass to Tavarres King then threw the game-winner, a three-yard pass to a wide-open Sterling Shepard to give Giants a 21-20 lead.
There was still 14:05 left. But the Giants defense, improved with $200 million worth of additions in the offseason, didn’t let the Bengals get past their own 39-yard line on the three possessions they had after the Giants went ahead .
On Cincinnati’s final possession, the Giants sacked Andy Dalton on second down (Snacks Harrison and Jonathan Casillas) and third down (Olivier Vernon) then Rashad Jennings, who has been having a miserable season, helped the Giants run out the last 3:01 with a huge nine-yard run on third-and-6 from the Giants’ 45 with just under three minutes remaining. “We expect anybody on the defense to make plays,” Vernon said. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers that can do special things.”
The current Giants hope to catch some of the magic from these two guys.
(Al Bello/Getty Images)
Considering the misery from the last four years, the Giants are energized as they make the turn for home. The Cowboys are out in front in the NFC East at 8-1 and right now the Giants are the No. 1 wild-card team.
“It just feels good to be winning games,” Manning said. “I like the position we’re in. We got to keep going, though. We can’t slow down, we can’t relax for a second. Every game we’ve been playing has been tight, it’s been close. We got to keep on finding ways to win these close game. Obviously we can play better football. I’m proud of the way the team is fighting.”
The Giants face the inept Bears (2-7) at home on Sunday and then face the Browns, who are 0-10 on their way to 0-16. That puts the Giants in terrific position to get to 8-3.
“It’s the NFL, there is no easy games, no such thing as anything guaranteed,” Manning said. “You got to show up and play great football or not only will you lose but you will get embarrassed. We’re not in position to relax one bit. We have to get better each and every week. We have to start playing better football.”
Manning joked about Coughlin’s Ring of Honor speech at halftime running so long the players were back on the field and ready to go and Coughlin was still talking. Coughlin said he didn’t to get cheated out of giving his speech.
“I didn’t think I would get the opportunity to see it live,” Manning said. “It was great to hear coach Coughlin talk. I could just imagine what he would be doing on the sideline if someone was up there at halftime going over the limit. He would be going crazy on the sideline. But I guess we can’t fine him any more for being late. We’ll give him an exception this time.”
Nine games in and the Giants are relevant. They can even make Super Bowl predictions.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News