Eli Manning downplays recent slide, says he has 'to protect the ball'

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning's passing yards are down in his past few games.

Manning has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in each of his past three starts. He has completed just 56 of 94 passes. In that span, he has thrown six touchdowns and three interceptions.

Is it a slump? Perhaps a downslide for the 35-year-old veteran?

Manning would hear none of that Tuesday, two days after his team used devastating defense and a clutch, 61-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Odell Beckham Jr. for a 10-7 victory over Dallas.

"I know I can make plays," Manning said. "I know I can get hot. I have to keep working. I'm confident that I can go out there and have a big game."

Manning said he has not been at his best the past three games. He has overthrown some open receivers and underthrown others.On the season, Manning has thrown 13 interceptions and lost four fumbles.

"I have to play better," he said. "I know that. I have to find completions and protect the ball better. I have to find completions, score points and hopefully win. I know we have to clean some things up."

Manning said he felt fine physically.

"I feel good," he said. "I am healthy. I know that people are going to criticize me, but I'm my own worst critic. I just have to do my job and prepare each week."

The Giants (9-4) have a crucial game against the Detroit Lions (9-4) at home on Sunday. The Giants have used a strong defensive effort to win seven of their past eight games.

But when the season began, the Giants' offense was expected to carry the team. The running game is among the worst in the NFL, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. That has put even more pressure on the shoulders of the quarterback.

Manning knows his play is even more important when the temperatures dip. In the past, Manning has played well in frigid temperatures.

"I know that we have some cold weather games coming up," Manning said. "We have to be able to score some points. We've had some good games, some explosive games in the past.

"We've just had some unfortunate plays of late. I know I've missed Odell a play here and there. But these problems are easily fixable. We can have a great game plan and then make the plays that are there."

Manning was asked if he was under duress because of the struggles of the offensive line.

"They're hanging in there," he said. "They're tough. They're going to give us the opportunity to make plays as long as I make great decisions.

"I think offensively we can get things going. In this business, you definitely look at your play and performance. You feel better if you play better."

Manning knows he has to do one thing better: "I have to protect the ball. That's the main thing."