If this was Eli Manning’s final start at home in a career that saw the New York Giants win two Super Bowls, it was one that sent chills down the spine.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP threw two touchdowns and New York snapped a franchise record-tying nine-game losing streak with a 36-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
This game was all about the 38-year-old, who is in the final year of his contract. He got a standing ovation from fans before the opening offensive series and another one when coach Pat Shurmur pulled him with less than two minutes to go to put in backup Alex Tanney with the outcome set.
Manning was hugged by teammates, serenaded with chants of “Eli Manning” by fans and met by his family entering the tunnel for more hugs and a pictures walking off the field. He picked up his children and hugged them.
“Obviously, the support of the fans and their ovation and their chanting my name from the first half until the end, I appreciate that,” Manning said. “I appreciate that always and my teammates coming up to me. It was a special day, a special win, one I’ll remember.”
This has been a tough year for Manning. He lost his starting job to Daniel Jones three games into the season and got it back last Monday because the rookie sprained his right ankle. Manning is not sure what will happen next. He would like to start the final two games, but Jones is Shurmur’s starter and he will play when ready.
Saquon Barkley ran for 112 yards and scored two walk-in touchdowns and New York’s much-maligned defense added a safety as the Giants (3-11) handed the Dolphins (3-11) their second loss in as many weeks at MetLife Stadium.
Manning threw a 51-yard scoring pass to Golden Tate in the second quarter and a go-ahead 5-yarder to Darius Slayton on the opening series of the second half. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft also threw three interceptions, two of which set up field goals by Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders.
Tate said Manning refused to take the spotlight after the game, turning the focus away from himself to the importance of winning.
“He has been doing it for a long, long, long time and knows how to keep his emotions in check,” Tate said. “That doesn’t surprise me. He went back in and got that standing ovation he got, I think we all got choked up. I would not be surprised if you guys got choked up. What he has achieved and done for this organization is special and will go in the history book for the rest of time.”
Manning refused to say whether he shed a tear.
“You know, maybe, maybe,” said Manning, who finished 20 of 28 for 283 yards.