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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Notebook: Mike Shanahan's conference call

By Matt Ehalt

It's no secret that the Giants struggled to run the ball this season. That's what makes Eli Manning's season even more remarkable to Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.

"The thing that has been impressive with Eli is that the running game has not been as productive as it was a year ago because of the injuries and yet he has still taken the bull by the horns," Shanahan said on a conference call Wednesday. "He is playing exceptionally just going through his reads and if you look at the sacks, touchdown to interception ratio, usually when someone does that it means the running game is going good and the passing game is going good. Even though it may be because of injuries, he has really taken over and done a fantastic job."

Shanahan and the Redskins held Manning to his third-lowest output of the season as the quarterback tallied just 268 yards and one interception in a 28-14 loss earlier this season. In that game, the Giants did not score in the second half.

While Manning did not orchestrate a comeback against his team, the Redskins coach has certainly noticed Manning's play in the final 15 minutes.

"The great ones can do that and he has stepped up his game," Shanahan said. "He has eliminated mistakes and that's what separates the great ones."

THEN TO NOW: When the Redskins beat the Giants to start the season, there was optimism for Washington. Now, after 14 weeks, the team has once again been eliminated from the playoffs and can start preparing for the NFL Draft.

Still, despite having nothing to play, the Redskins are going to try to ruin some other teams' hopes in these final three weeks.

"You want to not have this situation too many times but as you play and lose some tight games, you just want to get back on track," Shanahan said. "You are hoping that your team has enough character to keep playing hard and playing well. You know that a lot of teams are playing for something, as the Giants are this week; we just want to show our fans that we are going to go out there and give it everything we've got and be the spoiler."

JPP: Following his great performance Sunday night, Jason Pierre-Paul has been the talk of the town. Shanahan, like many others, had high remarks for the second year defensive end. Pierre-Paul had two sacks in the first game on Sept. 11.

"He is really talented and you can see that when he first came into the league," Shanahan said. "He is a lot more comfortable with the defense and his responsibilities and you can tell that just by watching his strengths grow because he is much more comfortable with himself. He just reacts so much quicker than he did as a young player. You can see the talent is coming on."