Quarterback Eli Manning had solid numbers in the New York Giants' season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Wednesday, completing 21 of 32 passes for 213 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 94.9. Of course, this is the same Manning who averaged more than 300 passing yards and nearly two touchdowns per game last year en route to his second Super Bowl title, so there was obviously room for more.
Manning says it is closing that gap, not just in his own efforts but in those of every Giant on the roster, that will get the defending NFL champs past their disappointing Week One loss and back on track in defending their title.
"We came in Thursday after the game and said we've got to do better," said the two-time Pro Bowl passer. "We've got to practice better, we've got to prepare better, we've got to step it up. What we brought to the table on that Wednesday night was not good enough. But the good part was, we felt that a lot of the problems are correctable. We can fix them. It's not guys doing wrong things, it's not mental mistakes that hurt us. It's just everybody stepping up their performance that much more."
The Giants lost their first game last year, too, as well as in 2007, and in both cases ended the season as Super Bowl champs. Obviously, that means there is no panic in New York as they prepare for a Week Two showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Meadowlands.
"Guys have responded well," said Manning. "That's the big thing. I think guys accepted that, realized that and know that, hey, it's a bump in the road. It's a little adversity. But we've lost our first game before and come back strong. It is what it is. We accept it and you've just got to move forward and get ready for this week."
The Cowboys' defense sacked Manning three times, forced the game's only turnover on a David Wilson fumble and allowed only three points before halftime. The Buccaneers will be looking to put a similar amount of pressure on the Giants' passer after doing a fine job of disrupting Carolina's Cam Newton in their own opening-day victory.
Manning says the Giants will have a bit of an advantage in comparison to the Panthers in preparing for the Bucs' new defense, now that actual regular-season game tape exists, but he still expects a significant challenge.
"They're very fast on defense, and very quick, guys moving around, their line moving around, bringing linebackers on blitzes," he said. "They play a pretty good bit of man coverage and trust their corners, and their safeties that play man on tight ends and receivers. They played outstanding last week, they played well through the preseason. They're a good team. They do some good things and I'm sure they'll have some new wrinkles this week. But if we stick to our rules and follow our assignments we should be in good shape."