ATLANTA — Well, the stat sheet sure looked pretty.
The stat sheet had Eli Manning throwing the ball 38 times, completing 27 of those attempts for 399 yards and a touchdown, and accumulating a rating of 113.8. It shows he spread the ball around to seven different receivers, hit Odell Beckham Jr. on a 51-yarder and Sterling Shepard on a 58-yarder.
As we say: pretty stat sheet.
But Manning wasn’t celebrating his night’s work as he walked away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium a 23-20 loser, as he watched his team fall to 1-6 on an already-lost season. He was lamenting another season gone way too wrong way too soon.
“Nobody is running away with our division,” Manning said. “But we’re running out of time.”
Well, what else did you expect him to do, officially wave a white flag of surrender? Manning knows as well as anyone that the offense is killing the Giants, specifically their inability to maximize possessions.
“I think what sums it up for us is that we have to score touchdowns when we get to the red zone,” Manning said. “That’s what’s hampering us. The last couple games we get down there close and it changes everything when you get touchdowns and get some momentum.”
Manning struggled through the first half mostly thanks to an old bugaboo: He spent much of it running for his life, hurried often and getting sacked four times.
If it feels like the same old story … well, Manning is trying to keep from buying into a defeatist attitude.
“I’m not worried about [poor starts] two years in a row.” he said. “I’m shocked to be 1-6 this year with the players we have and the way we’ve worked. But that’s what happens in this league if you don’t play to the caliber you can.There’s too many good players and too many good teams to not be at your best every week.”
And as the losses mount, the buzz around Manning is sure to grow louder. That, as much as anything, may be the one element he can handle better than just about anyone else in the league after playing so long in New York.
“You can only worry about the things you can control,” he said. “All I can control is getting prepared to play the next game.”