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Something to prove

Manning, Coughlin still haven't satisfied Giants fans

Posted: Thursday November 15, 2007 3:21PM; Updated: Friday November 16, 2007 12:42AM
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Eli Manning has thrown 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season.
Eli Manning has thrown 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season.
Al Bello/Getty Images

Two days after the Giants dropped their most pivotal game of the season to date -- a 31-20 defeat at home to the Dallas Cowboys -- Tom Coughlin had a talk with his quarterback Eli Manning. This is standard operating procedure in the NFL, where a coach and his signal-caller are in constant contact; but it is doubly important in a town like New York City, where fans are impatient, coaches have quick shelf lives, and quarterbacks are expected to grow up fast.

"He is very resilient," Coughlin said of Manning on Wednesday during a news conference. "He is very focused on his job. He never bats an eye about saying what his responsibilities are, or whether he performed well or not. He always takes responsibility for that. He is an elected captain on the team. He is fully aware of that responsibility as well."

In their fourth season with the Giants, Coughlin and Manning are still looking for a defining moment on a team that has underachieved since advancing to the Super Bowl following the 2000 season. In the interim, Manning has become endless fodder for talk radio and the tabloids. When will he win a big game? Why isn't he more accurate? When will he step into the heat of a fourth quarter and make the moment his own?

Manning, whose brother is a Super Bowl champion and whose father is football royalty, lives in a fishbowl where every throw, tic and shrug of the shoulders is picked apart. It happened again after the loss to the Cowboys, a game in which he completed 23 of 34 passes for 236 yards and added a touchdown and two interceptions.

Surely, it wasn't Manning's fault that the Giants gave up four touchdown passes to Tony Romo, but then again, Manning failed to match Romo in production. Manning said he knows the criticism is there. It lives on the front and back pages of the newspaper and on the airwaves 24 hours a day.

"You just have to learn to accept it," he said. "It happens after a loss sometimes. You never know when it is going to happen or what is going to cause it or what strikes it up. But it is out there and you can't let it affect your personality or the way you are in the locker room or your approach. You have to stay the same and have a good attitude about everything and show everybody that it doesn't bother you and doesn't affect you and you are going to go out there and still practice hard and perform hard."

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