But Manning and the Giants looked like they did the first half of this season in the 37-14 loss Sunday in San Diego.
Right from the start, Manning looked terrible against the team the drafted him back in 2004. The fans were quick to remind him through a chorus of “boos” about what they thought of his decision to spurn the city and go play in New York.
Big Blue’s first four drives featured two three-and-outs, a punt and a Manning interception. He threw a pass that Rueben Randle likely should have caught, but just as the Giants’ luck has gone all season, the ball deflected right into the arms of Chargers’ linebacker Donald Butler.
Naturally, that turnover resulted in a Keenan Allen touchdown. The Giants are the only team in the NFL to turn the ball over at least once in every game this season.
The Chargers’ defense had allowed the fewest number of three-and-outs all season, but the Giants have made a habit of hapless offensive drives this season.
Later on, Andre Brown lost a fumble for the first time of his career. Of course, that turnover also led to a Chargers’ touchdown – a scoring reception from Danny Woodhead.
With the game totally wrapped up, Manning drove the stake deeper into Giants’ fans’ hearts with his league-leading 20th interception of the season. It was the Giants’ league-leading 34th turnover of the season.
Hakeem Nicks actually showed up in this one. He had the one big catch in the first quarter on the drive that resulted in the interception. His other long grab came right as the half ran out. He also added a big catch on a deflected pass that he turned into a first down.
Maybe Nicks is finally seeing that this season is on the verge of ending and that he’s in a much worse position than he was this past offseason to negotiate a new contract – whether that’s with the Giants or another team.
It was at least nice to see the team come out in the second half and score a touchdown in the red zone off a Philip Rivers’ fumble. That drive also included a fourth-down conversion – the Giants are now 5-of-10 on fourth down this season. Big Blue scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives to open the second half, but that was the extent of the team’s offense.
Even during the Giants’ recent streak of winning 5-of-6 games, they really didn’t beat a legitimate opponent. With wins by the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals, the Giants have officially been eliminated from playoff contention – the Cardinals hold the tiebreakers based on conference record.
After the 0-6 start, missing the playoffs was basically inevitable, especially given the team’s propensity for turning the ball over. The Giants at least made it somewhat interesting for a few weeks, but what a disappointing season overall.
They can now either fold completely or accept the role as spoiler.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.