- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning got off to a rough start Sunday. But he finished strong, which is what matters most.
After nearly throwing an interception on the opening drive of the game, and then throwing a pick on the team's second drive -- which was returned for a touchdown -- Manning answered with four touchdown tosses in the New York Giants' 52-27 win over the New Orleans Saints.
It was Manning's seventh career four-touchdown game, tying him with Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle for the franchise record.
"I liked the way he responded," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He wears that stuff hard. That one and the later interception he wasn’t very happy about and I wasn’t either."
The second pick came in the third quarter, which helped the Saints get back in the game for a spell. But Manning made up for the mistakes, hooking up with four different players for scores: tight end Martellus Bennett, and wide receivers Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon.
Cruz has been a regular in the end zone this season, with nine touchdowns -- second-best in the league. The other guys haven't been there nearly as often.
"I think guys are just stepping up and responding," Manning said. "Getting Hakeem back and running where he’s making plays, that’s obviously outstanding. Getting Hixon back into the mix, getting him healthy and Martellus has been playing well. All of those things make a big difference."
Manning entered the game with 16 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 85.3 -- ranking him in the middle of the pack, 16th in the NFL.
That rating will go up, after he completed 22 of 35 passes for 259 yards, plus the four TDs.
Manning was especially happy with the Giants' success in the red zone, after having to settle for several field goals last week in a loss to the Redskins.
"I thought the red zone [offense] was definitely better," the quarterback said. "You’re not always going to be 100 percent, but you want it to be."
2dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan