The bash may be over for Eli

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Giants quarterback Eli Manning celebrated with fans after New York's 23-20 overtime win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game Sunday in Green Bay, Wis. (DAVID DUPREY ~ Associated Press)

Super Bowl appearance will go a long way toward silencing the critics of Eli Manning.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Famous for wanting to control his environment, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin realizes there's one thing he still has no power over: What people think and write about his quarterback.

However, Coughlin says Eli Manning's stellar postseason performance in leading the Giants to an improbable Super Bowl berth should end the Eli-bashing once and for all.

"I can't control what you write," Coughlin said.

New York edged the Green Bay Packers 23-20 on Lawrence Tynes' 47-yard field goal in overtime Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

"You sometimes write what you see, but you don't see what I see," he told reporters. "You could call it underestimating him, but we don't. We know what he's capable of, and he's just scratching the surface of it."

Want more proof that Eli Manning has arrived? Big brother Peyton, last year's Super Bowl MVP, had no real advice to give Eli when they talked after Sunday night's game.

"He said I'm past the point where he can give me advice anymore," Eli Manning said with a big grin. "He wants it the other way now. I don't know if I agree with him, but it's great to hear it from him. I'll take all the advice I can get."

He may need it Feb. 3 against the New England Patriots, the 18-0 AFC champions looking to cap a perfect season with a Super Bowl victory.

The oddsmakers have installed New England as a 13 1/2-point favorite. That, despite the fact the Giants nearly derailed the Pats' perfect season in the regular-season finale, losing 38-35 in a game few gave the Giants any shot of coming close to winning.

Coughlin said the Giants have fed off their role as underdogs all season, particularly after a 0-2 start.

"Once you realize you're always the underdog, that mentality fits in with some of the things we believe in from an inspirational standpoint -- having something to prove," Coughlin said. "We have something to prove every time we play because if there's 100 of you out there, 70 of you don't think we can win."

Manning said the Giants have never cared what outsiders thought of them.

"It's not about proving anything to anybody," he said. "It's about doing it for yourself, doing it for your teammates."

Coughlin said Manning hasn't changed; he's just getting more credit now for doing what he has been doing all along.

"His temperament is so great: He stays out of the valley, and doesn't get up on the peak," Coughlin said. "He's mentally taking charge of everything. He's in a position where he leads his team to victory. He likes that spot."

In particular, Coughlin praised Manning for making passes when he has to, and staying away from interceptions and forced throws. Against Green Bay, Manning completed 21 of 40 passes for 254 yards, with no interceptions.

Eli Manning did admit that Peyton gave him a tiny bit of advice as he prepares for the Super Bowl: "He said, 'This is fun, just take it all in.'

"I know I'm headed there," Eli Manning said. "I'm excited. It's about winning the game. No one remembers who loses the Super Bowl."

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