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Out of the Blue

Manning Leads Giants to Date with Destiny How many times have we heard the same thing before? Eli Manning, who the Giants traded the farm for, will never pan out and be successful like his ...

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Manning Leads Giants to Date with Destiny

How many times have we heard the same thing before? Eli Manning, who the Giants traded the farm for, will never pan out and be successful like his older brother Peyton. Instead of Manning, Big Blue should have just drafted Philip Rivers. Well, although the two aforementioned quarterbacks may have a world of talent, they will be watching Super Bowl XLII while Big Blue's signal caller will be on the field in Phoenix.

Following an improbable 23-20 overtime victory in Green Bay, the New York football Giants stunned the league by winning their third consecutive road playoff game. Manning has not thrown an interception in the postseason and avenged three regular season losses by ousting the Cowboys and Packers.

The conditions at Lambeau Field were abysmal, with temperatures below zero and much worse with the wind chill factor. Brett Favre may have had a great season for the Pack, but didn't seem comfortable all evening in the elements while Manning merely went about his business.

"[Eli's] played outstanding football right down the stretch here," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. "He's made really good decisions with the ball. He's handled the run game for us.

"The wind was nine miles an hour and the wind chill was supposed to be about -14 when the game started. So certainly not ideal conditions. The focus of Eli was outstanding, and he willed himself to play well."

Efficiency was once again Manning's strong point, and he was able to put the Giants in position to win the game on three separate occasions. Placekicker Lawrence Tynes missed two field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, the last a 36-yard attempt as time expired.

Corey Webster picked off Favre in the opening drive in overtime, which set up the game-winning 47-yard field goal by Tynes. "I knew it was good," he said. "I played it a little bit right to left; the wind was blowing right to left. I learned that from the first one I missed, the 43. I started it a little further right than I did the 43."

Tynes would not have had the opportunity to be either the goat or hero without Manning. The fourth-year pro has been everything that he was hyped up to be when he left Ole Miss. He is a consummate professional and is not worried about redemption.

"This is about this team," said Manning. "It is about the players, the coaches, everybody who has believed in us, who has no doubt and just comes to work every day preparing and keeps working. That is what it is about. It is not about proving anything to anybody. It is just about doing it for yourself, doing it for your teammates."

Doing it for his teammates is exactly what Manning has been doing these past three weeks. In the wild card game, he completed 20 of 27 passes for 1856 yards and two touchdowns. A week later in Dallas, Manning 12 for 18, 163 yards and two more scores. In the NFC Championship game, threw for 254 yards and made 21 of 40 attempts, which included more than a few drops by his receivers in the arctic conditions.

If the Giants can somehow upset the heavily-favored New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, Manning will have come full circle from the guy that the Giants 'overpaid' for in 2004.