Eli Going Back Home Where Brees is New Favorite SonTwo teams in the thick of the NFC playoff race will meet this coming Monday night. The Giants (6-4) are currently tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East while the New Orleans Saints enter Week 12 with a 7-3 record and a one-game lead on Atlanta in the NFC South.
Eli Manning returns to his hometown and the site where his father, Archie, played quarterback for the Saints (1971-82). Manning leads the NFL with a 120.5 passer rating in the fourth quarter this season, throwing for 1,081 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Obviously, we have to go win,” says Manning on the importance of this game. “That is always going to be the case since we have a tough road ahead. We have a good team coming up this week and we just have to find ways to play more consistent football throughout the game.”
The Saints are coming off a bye in Week 11. New Orleans has won two in a row and the team is a perfect 4-0 at home.
Quarterback Drew Brees leads the NFL with 3,326 passing yards, the most yards through the first 10 games of a season in NFL history. He has thrown a touchdown pass in 37 consecutive games, the second-longest streak all-time (Pro Football Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, 47 games). And he has completed at least 20 passes in an NFL-record 30 games in a row.
“This six-game stretch to end the season without a doubt becomes the race trying to put distance between you and the teams behind you,” says Saints head coach Sean Payton. “It’s just as important to improve each week with your own team and challenge yourselves to be playing your best football toward the latter part of the year.”
Brees was available to the media yesterday. He had lost some fans during the lockout over comments he made regarding retired players. That is all behind him. These days he just talks football. He took the time to speak fondly of the first family of New Orleans, the Manning family.
"When I first got to town you learn very quickly that this is the city that the Mannings are from," Brees said yesterday. "Archie, obviously having played here and lived here ever since and being very involved with the community and Eli and Peyton both, with everything that they’ve accomplished. People definitely take a lot of pride in saying those guys are from New Orleans. Archie will text me every now and then just to check in and say hello and wish me luck and that kind of thing. He’s always been very nice and always there if I need anything, the whole family. Cooper Manning, the other brother, and his wife Ellen and three kids live like two minutes away from where we live so we’ll see them every now and then. It’s always good hanging out with them or catching up."
"Whenever I see Eli, like at the Pro Bowl a few years ago or I saw him at a golf tournament out here at one time, we’ll see each other maybe a couple of times a year just at different events and stuff. It’s obviously very cordial," Brees admitted. "I have a lot of respect for Eli and what he’s been able to accomplish. I think that all quarterbacks kind of have this relationship just because you know what each one of us goes through and you all kind of get together. I guess when we’re around each other everything’s fine. I don’t text or call Eli all of the time or anything, but I definitely have respect for him and consider him a friend."
Brees is under no illusions about the Giants' pass rush. He is aware they will be a major obstacle for him come Monday night.
"They’re number one in the league in sacks. They have gotten a turnover in something like 21 consecutive games – 26, 27 consecutive games. They have the [longest streak in the NFL]. What I see is a defense that does a great job of getting after the quarterback, that does a great job taking the ball away and taking advantage of those opportunities when they have it. You have to play extremely smart against them. You can’t be one dimensional. You have to be able to run the ball as well as throw it, take advantage of the opportunities when you do happen to have big plays, try to find matchups wherever you can find them and hope for a little bit of luck along the way too."