You cannot inject sentiment and reminiscence into an event because it seems like the appropriate thing to do. Eli Manning gets to make what is most likely his final home start at in his career.
There will be plenty of No. 10 jerseys on display in the stands, but also an embarrassing number of empty gray seats at MetLife Stadium, befitting this particular team in this particular season — with a franchise-record-tying nine straight losses heading into a clash with the dismal Dolphins.
Manning never allows his emotions to come to the surface for very long but surely he has some churning for this game. He also has been drained from the happenings of the past three-plus months. He knows he is the backup quarterback on the way out and was on the field Monday night in Philadelphia and again Sunday to face the Dolphins because rookie Daniel Jones has a high ankle sprain.
No one likes to leave anything rewarding without a proper goodbye. Manning and his fans get this farewell, as Jones is expected to be healthy and available to play before the season is over — either next week in Washington or for the home finale against the Eagles.
For those who cannot get Manning out of the bloodstream, there were glimpses of the thrilling days of yesteryear when the soon-to-be 39-year-old tossed two electric touchdown passes to rookie Darius Slayton, Manning’s first activity since Sept. 15, and the Giants took a 17-3 lead on the Eagles.
That was a reminder of the past. The second half was a head-slap into the present, as Manning and the team around him sunk like a rock in a pond and lost for the ninth consecutive time, matching a franchise record set in 1976.
There was no moment of clarity for Manning amid the dampness of Philadelphia because there was never a moment of doubt in his mind. For his entire 16-year run, Manning’s worth and pedigree as an NFL quarterback was dissected every step of the way, but he remained steadfast that he knew exactly what he was.
“I still feel I can play,’’ Manning said. “I don’t think that ever crossed through my mind.’’
It is probably too late for Pat Shurmur to save his job, as his team is 2-11 after last year’s 5-11 showing. He preferred to take his final swings with Jones, but that will not happen before next week, at the earliest.
His Giants can lose to anyone, but they certainly can beat the Dolphins (3-10). Shurmur’s Giants can lose to anyone, anywhere, but they have it within them to score one more point than the Redskins at FedEx Field. And, let’s say the Eagles are eliminated from playoff contention in Week 17. Shurmur’s Giants would have a shot at beating the Eagles, as long as the Birds are playing for nothing.
Shurmur’s Giants can finish 2-14, 3-13, 4-12 or 5-11. Most likely, losses to the Lions, especially to the Jets and last week to the struggling Eagles sealed Shurmur’s fate. Shurmur benched Manning, and it is doubtful Manning can save Shurmur now. All that is left is a final goodbye and just maybe a smile as Manning trots off the field.
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