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Giants QB Manning sees a golden opportunity

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Tom Rock
February 3, 2012
— Eli Manning took some time Thursday to talk a little about the way he and his teammates got to this point. He reflected on his first home playoff win against the Falcons last month, and the road victories over the Packers and the 49ers. He waxed poetic about the bus rides to practices and other events here in Indianapolis, the dinners they ate together in the local restaurants, the laughs they shared.

“The whole journey has been great,” he said with a smile.


But then he became serious and spoke not about the path but the destination.


“The goal,” he said, “is to finish it all and to finish it off strong.”


Finish it, in other words, with a win. Because all of those sweet memories will become faded very quickly if the Giants are unable to protect them in the frame of a Super Bowl title.


“That’s been the word of the season,” he said, a reference to the ubiquitous six letters in finish. “We finished our regular season very strong, winning three of our last four. We took that momentum into the playoffs. Now we have the last game of our season, which will be on Sunday, and hopefully we will finish that strong.”


It’s the “all business” approach that Manning preached to the team last week, after they won the NFC championship. They had their fun, it’s time to put the game faces on.


The media sessions are now over for Manning and the Giants. The players won’t be readily available for public comment again until after the game, when they’ll either be celebrating a title or grappling with the devastation of defeat. Players’ families began arriving Thursday, adding an all new layer to the distraction of the event.


Manning, however, is committed to following through with his pregame routine. He’ll meet with his receivers today, just as he has throughout the season, only he’ll do it in a hotel room instead of an office in the Timex Performance Center.


“At that point in time, he goes over things that he’s accumulated over the course of the week,” Tom Coughlin said. “He has a tape made, he cuts it up, and he decides how to implement what he wants and gives a part to the receiver in terms of what he’s looking for and what his expectations are. Then, he listens to the receivers while they talk in terms of what they felt they could or couldn’t do or what they should and shouldn’t have done.”


Once they’re on the field on Sunday, Manning said, the routine will also be very familiar.


“We always have a pretty good routine with our receivers going out there a few hours before kickoff,” he said. “They have to do what they’ve always been doing all season. You don’t have to do anything special or try extra hard. You just have to go out there and compete and do your job.”


Manning’s already won a Super Bowl, and he’s only the 19th quarterback ever to start a second one. He and his brother Peyton have that in common. Eli Manning would like to separate himself from Peyton by winning that second start. And thanks to Peyton, whose football mortality has undoubtedly caused Eli Manning to recognize that one day his career will end as well, he’s not counting on a third chance.


“Having been in the NFL for eight years, you realize how rare it is to get here, how special it is and what a great opportunity it is,” he said. “You don’t want to let these opportunities slip away ... In my eighth year, this might be the last one I ever get to. You want to make the most of it and make sure you don’t let it slip away.”



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