Giants quarterback Eli Manning outplayed Aaron Rodgers on Sunday and now he's coming to San Francisco to try and improve on his previous visit in November, when he threw for 311 yards and two TDs, but also served up a pair of interceptions and lost 27-20.
New York's Super Bowl-winning QB met the media Monday and gave his first glimpse into his mindset for the NFC Championship against the 49ers.
Eli ManningJanuary 16, 2012
Q: What does this win do for you moving forward?
Manning: Its a big win and obviously going against a great team talented on both sides of the football. Their offense had a great year. Their defense did outstanding. Stopping them, getting turnovers and then offensively we did well on third down, hitting some big plays and not giving them turnovers. Theyve been great at getting turnovers all season. We gave them one, but played smart football on both sides of the ball and found a way to win.
Q: How gratifying was the success the team had on third down?
Manning: Thats big. Obviously thats extending drives. Thats giving us opportunities to make big plays. Early on, from the first series, we had a couple big third-and-long conversions. The second series, we had a third-and-long conversion where I hit Hakeem. The next play I throw an in-cut to Hakeem. He breaks a tackle and scores a touchdown. Giving yourself an extra three plays thats big for us. We know offensively that the more plays we get the more opportunities were going to have to hit some big plays and get some touchdowns.
Q: Whats it like to get another shot at San Francisco in the NFC Championship?
Manning: Were excited. Its a big game and theyre playing great football. We know what to expect with them. Theyre very a sound team. Theyre very good. They have good players. They play with great energy. Their secondary has good players in it. Theyre good all around. They play smart football. Their offense doesnt turn the ball over. They run the ball. Alex Smith is playing well. We know were going to have to play that same way. Were going to have to play smart. Offensively, were going to have to be very consistent. Everybody is going to know their assignments. Its just about execution.
Q: How much fun is it to see the confidence building?
Manning: Its fun when youre playing good football, when everybody is executing, when the team is playing well together. And thats both sides of the ball. Offense doing our part scoring points, third down conversions, making big plays. Defensively, theyre getting after the quarterback, theyre getting stops. When things are clicking as a team its a great feeling.
Q: Is revenge a factor this week or is just the fact that its the NFC Championship game enough?
Manning: This is about the NFC Championship. Its an opportunity to get this win and go on to the Super Bowl. We played them once before. We know theyre a good team. Theres no denying that. Theyre playing great football. Theyre playing with great confidence. Its going to be exciting going out there and having another shot and seeing what we can do.
Q: How do the 49er linebackers stack up?
Manning: Theyre about as good as they get. I dont know if there is a better corps in the NFL with their 3-4 scheme and Patrick Willis and Bowman and their outside backers. Theyre talented. Their front seven is as good as you can face in the NFL. And their secondary is talented as well. Theyre solid. They dont have many weaknesses on defense. Its just going to come down to execution and everybody doing their assignments.
Q: Youre one game away from the Super Bowl. Thats another notch up from a playoff game isnt it?
Manning: Definitely. This is exciting. This is where you want to be. We always talk about finishing and playing your best football at the end of the season. Thats what were doing now. Were playing great football on both sides of the ball. We have to continue to do that. Were playing smart. We cant turn the ball over. Hopefully our defense can continue to get some turnovers for us and continue to play well. If were going to continue this thing, its going to take both sides of the ball playing to the best of their ability.