Print and Go Back ESPN.com: BlogsColumns [Print without images]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Updated: November 25, 5:24 PM ET
Eli Manning faces turning point of 2010

By Ohm Youngmisuk
ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The week started with a crushing defeat in Philadelphia on Sunday night.

By Monday afternoon, Hakeem Nicks was in the hospital and out for the next three weeks or more, joining an already crowded New York Giants injury report that's longer than a line outside Best Buy on Black Friday.
Eli Manning
Eli Manning must cut down on the turnovers if the Giants are going to be successful going forward.

At this rate, the Giants just want to make it to Thanksgiving without suffering any more setbacks.

However, all hope is not lost.

"It's not even close," Eli Manning said when jokingly asked whether all hope is lost. "A lot of hope [is left]."

That's because the Giants haven't suffered the one injury that would truly end their season. Manning might be throwing too many interceptions and diving when he should be sliding, but he's still healthy -- and as long as the franchise quarterback is standing in that pocket, the Giants' season continues to breathe, no matter who is blocking in front of him and who is catching his passes.

While Perry Fewell's defense has been terrific this season and will have to continue to play like a top-three D, the Giants (6-4) will go only as far as Manning's arm takes them. The Giants' defense has played well enough to win games, but the offense needs to stop turning the ball over and score more points. It's time for Manning to carry the battered Giants, starting with Sunday's game against the surprising Jacksonville Jaguars (6-4). The Giants' next two games are at home, against a Jaguars defense that ranks 27th and a Washington Redskins defense that is dead last in the NFL. The Giants have to win these next two games to remain in the playoff hunt.

Nobody will blame Manning if the Giants fail to make the playoffs, considering he is working without his two best receivers and behind an offensive line that has been plagued by injuries all year.

But this is an opportunity for Manning to show that he truly is one of the NFL's great quarterbacks. Nearly three seasons removed from his Super Bowl-winning drive, Manning is in his prime and should be capable of carrying a team.

He will have to make everyone around him better, like his brother has done so deftly this season.

Peyton Manning's offense has been rocked by injuries to Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez and Mike Hart -- just to name a few. And the Colts' future Hall of Famer just plugs in a healthy body and barely skips a beat. Peyton Manning's greatness turns unknowns such as Jacob Tamme into overnight sensations.

In San Diego, Philip Rivers is putting up Dan Marino-esque numbers, and his top receiver, Vincent Jackson, hasn't even played a down yet this season. Rivers also has lost Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews and Malcom Floyd, among others, to injuries.

The Pittsburgh Steelers also survived the first four games of the season without Ben Roethlisberger, who was serving a suspension.

Since requiring stitches to close a gash on his forehead during the preseason, Eli Manning has stayed out of the hospital -- and that's why the Giants still have a chance to do something this season, despite the injury bug becoming a bigger problem than bed bugs in New York.

"When you got your top two receivers out, that is always a big blow," Manning said. "But we learn how to fight through it. Other guys got to step up, and we got to run the ball and get guys open. I got to play great football."

Manning and the Giants deperately need to eliminate the turnovers. They lead the NFL with 30 of them, and if it weren't for the drive-killing interceptions and fumbles, people might be buzzing about Manning's season. His 21 touchdown passes place him third in the NFL, behind only Rivers and Drew Brees. He has completed 65.6 percent of his passes, for 2,595 yards. But his 16 interceptions put him one behind league leader Brett Favre.

Of course, not all the interceptions have been Manning's fault, with several of them going off the hands of his receivers. But if he had thrown a few less picks, he likely would have at least three more touchdowns -- since three of his interceptions have come in the red zone -- and the Giants might have two more wins.

Tom Coughlin's team is at a fragile point in its season. The Giants have lost two straight games, including one in which they poured their heart out in Philadelphia. Five of the Giants' remaining six games are against teams that are 5-5 or better, including a trip to Green Bay and one more all-out war with the Eagles. The only team with a losing record left on their schedule at the moment is Minnesota, and winning in Minneapolis is not going to be easy after the Vikings' coaching change.

Meanwhile, the NFC powers that struggled early, like the Packers and Saints, have gotten their acts together. The Falcons and Eagles are hitting their stride as well.

Those four teams all have one thing in common: terrific quarterbacks. However, only one -- Brees -- has something in common with Manning, and that's a Super Bowl ring.

Manning has lifted the Giants to greatness before. He might need to be even better than he was in 2007 to take this team to the playoffs, with less talent and a margin for error slimmer than an iPhone.

But Manning has it in him to make the likes of Mario Manningham, Derek Hagan, the newly signed Michael Clayton, rookie Duke Calhoun, and tight ends Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum better.

It's time for Manning to once again show that he can be like big brother and carry the Giants out of the ER and into the playoffs.

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »