Giants kick up their heels, stay perfect
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - After taking the opening snap and making a play-action fake, Eli Manning dropped back, set up with a bounce on his right heel, and fired a 9-yard pass to tight end Darcy Johnson.
Any concerns about Easy Eli’s painful right heel were answered on the first play of his 83d consecutive start yesterday.
Manning threw two scoring passes and led the Giants on touchdown drives on their first four possessions in a 44-7 win over the hapless Oakland Raiders that has New York (5-0) off to its best start since winning the Super Bowl in 1990.
“At the end, it was picture perfect,’’ said Manning, who was 8 of 10 for 173 yards, needing to play less than a half in the rout. “Just get in there and score, score quickly, score a lot and then rest it and make sure you don’t put more strain on it or make it more sore tomorrow. It turned out really well.’’
Manning led the Giants on scoring drives of 77, 79, 94, and 13 yards in his most effective performance this season.
His touchdown passes covered 30 yards to Mario Manningham and 9 yards to first-round pick Hakeem Nicks. Manning played one extra series before donning a baseball cap late in the second quarter for a well-deserved rest on a day the Giants gained 483 total yards.
Backup halfback Ahmad Bradshaw also played a big role, rushing for 110 yards and scoring on runs of 1 and 19 yards.
Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell struggled again leading the league’s worst offense. He lost three fumbles and was 8 of 13 for 100 yards - not that he had any time. He was sacked six times as the Raiders (1-4) were limited to 124 yards of offense.
Their lone score - Michael Bush’s 5-yard touchdown run - came after the Giants’ Sinorice Moss fumbled on a punt return at his 15.
Manning’s availability was the Giants’ biggest concern. He sustained a painful injury to his right heel in the win over Kansas City last weekend. He missed two days of practice and then took half the snaps Friday, giving the indication he would play.
“He wanted to play; he wanted to play all week,’’ coach Tom Coughlin said. “He has done a great job with the power of the will over these things a couple of times.’’
Manning was 4 of 5 for 36 yards on the opening drive that Bradshaw capped by slamming in from a yard out on fourth down.
The next three Giants possessions were lightning fast. The second drive was three plays and 79 yards, featuring a 43-yard pass to Steve Smith and runs of 17 and 19 yards by Bradshaw. The third score came on a five-play, 94-yard jaunt that featured a 55-yard screen pass to Bradshaw on third and 24. Manning found Manningham in the right corner on the next play and the rout was on.
A sack by cornerback Terrell Thomas and a fumble recovery by Justin Tuck set up the three-play drive that Manning capped with his pass to Nicks.