Eli Manning: 'I've got to play smart'

Updated: October 7, 2013, 10:01 PM ET
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning responded Monday to 24 hours' worth of criticism that began with his own coach's comments in the wake of the Giants' 36-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

A day after Tom Coughlin called Manning's three fourth-quarter interceptions and three intentional-grounding penalties "demoralizing," Manning went on the radio in New York and said he didn't think he was playing that poorly.

"Nope. That's the thing. I don't think I'm playing lousy," Manning said in his weekly radio appearance on WFAN radio. "I think I'm seeing the defenses well. I think I'm throwing the ball accurately. So I feel like I'm in sync, my fundamentals are good, everything's kind of in place. It's just a matter of getting in some bad predicaments and not catching many breaks and just getting in some tough spots."

Manning leads the NFL with 12 interceptions, and his completion percentage has dropped every week, from his season high of 64.3 in the opener in Dallas to 46.2 in Sunday's loss. The Giants trailed by just one point early in the fourth quarter Sunday when Manning threw the first of three interceptions in a span of nine throws.

Coughlin said he spoke to Manning on Monday and tried to encourage him.

"We did visit today, and he feels bad about the game, just as we all do," Coughlin said on a conference call with reporters. "We're suffering remorse from opportunity lost. But he's certainly going to get right back up again in preparation -- very short preparation -- for the next opponent. And I know that part will be done properly. And I wish I could bring his spirits back up, but unfortunately it's still very close to yesterday."

Coughlin said he believed Manning was taking too much of the criticism for the loss and the 0-5 start, and Manning's teammates agreed.

"The type of person he is, he takes a lot of that blame, but that's not the way it is," wide receiver Victor Cruz said on his conference call. "It's everyone. It's the receivers. It's the offensive line. It's everyone that's to blame for some of these losses and the things that have happened out there. It's a full team effort, not just one guy. You can't just put the blame on one person."

Manning said he didn't take Coughlin's postgame comments the wrong way.

"Coach Coughlin and I have a great relationship," Manning told WFAN. "We talk a lot of weeks about what's going on, trying to get on the same page and get to where I'm playing at a high level and playing his style of football. And I kind of just told him the same thing. I said I'm not forcing the ball. I'm not making bad decisions. I've got to do my job better, and I'll keep working at it. But everybody's got to step it up a bit. So obviously I've got to play smart. I've got to protect the ball. That's the No. 1 thing, and I know it."

The Giants travel to Chicago to play the Bears on Thursday night.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com contributor Mike Mazzeo was used in this report.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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