The game ended with Manning being pulled to a standing ovation with 1:50 remaining. As fans chanted his name, the two-time Super Bowl winner got emotional on the sideline.
"Obviously, I don't know what the future is. I don't know what lies next week, let alone down the road," Manning said after completing 20 of 28 passes for 283 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. "Obviously, the support and the fans, their ovation, chanting my name from the first snap to the end, I appreciate that. I appreciate them always and all my teammates coming up to me. It's a special day, a special win and one I'll remember."
This wasn't a normal December game for two teams entering with a combined five wins. It was a potential farewell at MetLife Stadium for the most accomplished quarterback in Giants history.
Manning's family, including his parents, his wife and their four young children, attended the contest. Manning's three daughters greeted him in the tunnel as he jogged off the field. Manning then soaked in the moment and held his infant son, Charlie, while his wife, overcome with emotion, watched from a few feet away before he strutted into the locker room.
"It's special. I think it's special that my kids get to come and watch some games," Manning said. "I don't remember my dad playing at all. He retired when I was 4 years old. My brothers have memories. They always kind of talked about it, in the locker room, around games, and I don't remember. So I try to bring my kids around as much as possible, bring them to some games. I know my youngest son won't remember any of it, but we'll at least have a picture to show him one day."
The day began when Manning received a standing ovation and fans chanted his name when he came onto the field for the Giants' first drive. When it became apparent the 234th start of his career would likely end in a victory, he was pulled from the contest in favor of backup Alex Tanney.
It was almost fitting that the Manning era ended with a win, evening his career regular-season record at 117-117, considering the success he had earlier in his career and the team's struggles in recent years. The Giants (3-11) snapped a nine-game losing streak.
"It's very important," co-owner John Mara said of going out with a win. "You wanted to see him go out, if in fact he's going out. You guys are making an assumption here. It's just nice to see him smile in the locker room afterwards."
Manning gave a rare pregame speech and also addressed the team after the game. He finished with, "See you Wednesday," thus declaring the following day Victory Monday. Mara used the phrase "very emotional" to describe the day.
Running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Sterling Shepard said they turned to each other as they came onto the field for the opening possession.
"Let's send him out on the right note. Do everything in our power," Shepard said.
Barkley had his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 2. He had multiple touchdowns for the first time this season.
They knew the situation. This is what they wanted.
"If that is his last game and that's the way we send Eli off, then that's the way we envisioned doing [it]. I know I wanted to go out there and play my tail off, and I know those guys wanted to do the same, too, for No. 10," Barkley said. "He's meant so much to this city and to this franchise for such a long time. He's a special person and a special player. If that is the way he gets sent off, I'm glad we were able to do it in a win and do it in that fashion."
Not a bad sendoff, if this was Manning's final start.
It just might be. Manning is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Rookie Daniel Jones missed his second straight game Sunday with a high ankle sprain, but there seems to be a decent chance he returns next week, when the Giants play on the road against the Washington Redskins.
Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in this year's draft, ditched the walking boot and practiced last week. He seemed to be moving well and said he felt "better," even if he wasn't all the way there. Manning even said afterward that Jones was getting close. Another seven days might be enough for him to be ready to get back on the field to face the Redskins and rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
In the meantime, he took in the festivities.
"It was awesome," Jones said. "It was awesome for him. I'm happy for him."
Manning was making his second consecutive start in place of Jones. The Giants won for the first time in Manning's four starts this season.It was just his ninth win in his past 36 starts.
"It's good to be able to have Eli out there playing with us and help lead us to a victory," coach Pat Shurmur said. "He's certainly done many, many good things here for many, many years. For him to enjoy leading us to a victory should feel real special for him because of who he is."
It didn't matter that it came against the struggling Dolphins (3-11). It made for what could be a nice ending to a legendary Giants career.
"I tried not to get too emotional just because we still have a couple football games left," Manning said. "I know I'll still be back in the stadium. I don't know if I'll play that day, but I know I'll get to run out one more time at least. But still excited. Excited for the win and an honor if it is the last one playing here where I'm starting and getting a win. Try to enjoy it and take it in for a moment."
ESPN's Ian O'Connor contributed to this story.
Eli throws 2 TDs, 3 INTs in likely final home start
Eli Manning throws two touchdown passes and three interceptions in the Giants' win over the Dolphins and gets a nice ovation from the crowd as he walks off in what is likely his final home start.
Tate makes bobbling catch, backpedals to finish off 51-yard TD
Golden Tate hangs on to make a nice bobbling catch and takes off for the end zone, backpedaling at the end for a 51-yard score.