Giants QB Eli Manning was under almost-constant pressure during Sunday night's 19-3 loss to the Cowboys in Dallas, while being sacked three times due to the team's leaky offensive line.
Manning finished the night 29-for-38 for 220 yards and one interception, which came late in the fourth quarter.
"I think the whole offense needs to make improvements," Manning said, according to the NY Daily News. "Start with me. I got to do a better job, be better prepared and lead this team better. I'll start with me and go from there. I just need to play better. Plays needs to be made."
Without Odell Beckham, Jr., Manning's main targets were Roger Lewis, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard, with Lewis leading that group with 54 yards receiving. RB Shane Vereen also caught nine passes for 51 yards.
Brandon Marshall, who was making his Giants debut, had one catch for 10 yards and was only targeted three other times.
While the Giants were without Beckham, Manning wouldn't use it as an excuse.
"Obviously, he's a tremendous player," he said. "We got players. We have got to play better than that. We got to do a better job finding completions on third down."
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The man looked like he was dancing on hot coals Sunday night as he tried to escape constant pressure from an average Cowboys D-line. But it wasn't entirely the O-line's fault for Manning's dismal performance.
Now, 29-38 for 220 isn't awful. But the numbers lie in this case as most of Manning's throws were quick dumps to the closest receiver just so the lineman or linebacker barreling in wouldn't record a sack. With pressure coming on almost every play, Eli didn't know what to do when he had a clean pocket to work from and rushed his throws.
The perfect example was early in the fourth, when Brandon Marshall was wide open with a clear lane to the end zone. And when I say clear, I mean the closest cornerback slipped and the safety was on the other side of the field. However, his happy feet struck again as he threw the ball too far in front of Marshall, resulting in the ball hitting off his hand. And chances for a comeback were shot.
There are many excuses like the O-line and OBJ sidelined to place blame for Manning's performance. But it is evident that Manning was nervous when the ball was snapped, and his throws reflected that. Can you blame him for that? Probably not with the amount of pressure he's been experiencing in the pocket since last season.
Moral of the story? The offensive line was horrific. But Manning needs to make throws when he has something to work with. He couldn't convert on those chances, and it will be a long, agonizing season if this continues to happen each week.