There’s this weird list of quarterbacks in the NFL that you just absolutely hope that your opponents fall in love with and invest oodles of money in.
Dallas is lucky to have two of them in the division. I’ll remind you Kirk Cousins is making 24 million dollars in Washington. The other one is Eli Manning.
Somehow, Eli has won a Super Bowl. Two? He’s won two Super Bowls? This… has to be be some kind of a joke or Berenstein Bears (Editor's Note: For the record, it's Berenstain Bears) Mandela Effect thing.
Anyway, if Eli’s last name was Foytenberry, he washed out of the league a season and a half after being taken in the sixth round by Cleveland and is one of your go-to joke QB names. ‘Oh Prescott is struggling, right? Let’s just call Sage Rosenfels, or I hear Eli Foytenberry’s working out a lot, we could call him!’ All laugh. Roll snare drum.
But, his name is Manning, and as a Dallas fan you want that ball in his hands late in the game. Because…
The Play: Giants 1st and 10, Own 40, 7:56 in the Fourth, Dallas 16, NYG 3
This game was something like an extended MMA match, and despite Dallas being the clear winner, they just couldn’t put NY away. For all their faults (most of which are their quarterback, and the wideout with the fussy ankle and hairstyle missing the game), New York fields an enviable defense, and coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a lengthy history of breaking the brains of Tony Romo, Jason Garrett, and Scott Linehan, so Dallas’s 13 point lead was not as safe as you would like it to be.
Dallas had just passed up an opportunity to slam the door on New York with a stalled drive that ate only 4:10 of the remaining clock. After a (nother) solid Chris Jones punt pinned the Giants deep on their side of the field, the first play of the drive looked a like doozy, as Charles Tapper had rental tackle Bobby Hart beat from the strong side.
Look I’ll stop here and make a concession. Eli Manning is a mediocre chud, but that just makes it worse when he beats you. Tom Brady beats you? You just got beat by the best of all time, and he’s impossibly handsome, always on time, and well dressed. When Eli beats you, it stings twice as hard. So, you’re forgiven for wincing here.
Manning stepped up into the pocket, and was able to find high-end rookie TE Evan Engram for 31 yards up the sideline. You know what momentum is? It’s good things happening. It doesn’t really portend ANOTHER good thing happening, but good things happening make you feel better, so we’ve imagined this whole construct around that, and called it momentum.
You could feel that thing we've named momentum swinging. Eli had somehow just made the Giants feel a little better and the Cowboys a little worse. Then, on the second play of the drive, with a fresh set of downs, Eli Manning again dropped back to pass. The Cowboys looked to be in zone coverage, and Anthony Brown just reads Manning’s intentions, and undercut the ball. Not bad for a guy who was drafted in the sixth round last year.
An impressive tussle followed, and receiver Roger Lewis basically curled Brown for one rep, but the dust settled and the ball was back in the hands of the Dallas offense with basically one first down separating them from Dan Bailey range.
The play put Dallas in a position to carve four minutes off the clock in 11 plays and kick a field goal to provide the 19-3 final score, which gave Eli two minutes to run up his stats a bit with some underneath, middle of the field gimmes. But he can’t fix the bit of his stat line that tells the story; one interception, zero touchdowns. Or, put another way: one division loss, zero wins in 2017.
What was your play of the game and why was it Cole Beasley's behind-the-back one-handed catch? Share your answer with Joe on Twitter @thejoeursery.