As Eli Manning was wrapping up his press conference following a 41--34 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday, someone mentioned that his 510 passing yards represented the seventh-highest single-game total ever. "If you count my interception yards, I'd probably be Number 1," the Giants' QB said jokingly before exiting stage left. He might have punctuated his departure with a mike drop were he someone less mild of manner—and were the device not screwed to the podium.
In August, coach Tom Coughlin expressed a desire for his offense—ranked fifth in passing and 32nd in rushing in 2011—to display more balance. "We want to fire on all levels," he said, "and not rely on one phase."
Sunday's performance suggested that little has changed for the Super Bowl champs. For the 15th time in 16 games, the Giants (1--1) did not produce a 100-yard rusher. Combined with a secondary—ranked 29th last year and now depleted by injuries—that allowed Josh Freeman to complete six passes of 19 yards or more, including 29- and 41-yard touchdowns, New York had little choice but to air it out. Manning threw 51 passes, third most in his career.
When you pass that often, interceptions are bound to happen, and the Bucs returned Manning's three picks for a total of 100 yards. "Turnovers: [They're] like sticking a dagger right here," Coughlin said afterward, pointing to his chest.
Given the Giants' pass-centric personnel, Coughlin will likely see more stab wounds in the future. Wounds and wins. This team has demonstrated that one-dimensionality isn't always a bad thing—not when you can execute that one thing so exceedingly well.