Eli Manning

USA Today

Monday Night Football

They’re both pretty horrible, but neither quit.

November 13, 2018 - 12:51 pm

The 1-7 New York Giants vs. The 2-7 San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football had misery written all over it. Three combined wins, zero combined hope. Ads promoting the game should’ve come with a warning. I’m not going to lie. I wanted nothing to do with it. And if they didn’t pay me to watch it, I wouldn’t have. Believe me, I would found something better to do: spend some time with the fam. Work a hobby. Stare at the wall; man, ANYTHING, but the Giants v. Niners on a Monday night. 

I mean, the only people who should’ve been into that game are fantasy players, folks with money on it, and the Oakland Raiders. Because it really felt like the only stakes in that game was the inside track to the first pick overall. If you had told me the over/under was 8, I’d have taken the under for sure. I would have even given you the final score: Niners 5, Giants 2.

So yes….Going into that game, I was fully prepared to come in this morning and say the only winners last night were the people who didn’t watch and the Oakland Raiders, because it moved them one step closer to the first pick.

But, I would’ve been wrong. Because I watched that game and I DON’T hate myself.  Or the world. I don’t feel like I wasted my time, or lost three hours that I’ll never get back. 

Because that game was much better than expected. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to say New York’s 27-23 win was... Chiefs-Patriots from earlier this season or Chiefs-Rams from next Monday night, but it was good. The teams aren’t good, but the game was good. And even when it wasn’t good, it was competitive. Neither team laid down. They’re both pretty horrible, but neither quit.   

And that serves as a memo to the Jets and Raiders and other teams that just seem to be mailing it in. That’s how you handle your business. 

There were some touchdowns. There were some nice cuts from Saquon Barkley. And there was Nick Mullens. Be honest, you’re not sure if his name is Nick Mullens or Nate Mullens, but you can be sure of this: Kyle Shanahan is a hell of a damn coach. 

Oh, and the fact that Mullens played at Brett Favre’s old school. That is quickly becoming the new Jerome Bettis is from Detroit.

But that’s not the point. The point is that Shanahan has ripped Nick or Nate from the practice squad and helped turn him into viable NFL quarterback. The name Nick Mullens was being mentioned in the same breath as Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton after his first start. And while he wasn’t quite James or Francis last night, he came this close to executing a game-winning drive with less than a minute on the clock. 

And two games into the Nick Mullens Experience, the Niners know they have a legit backup to Jimmy G or a valuable trade piece if they want to move Mullens. 

And that is why every team that is looking for a head coach is looking for the next Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay and to those teams I say, good luck. Because there aren’t a lot of Kyle Shanahan’s or Sean McVays working as assistant coaches right now. 

And while it’s easy to focus entirely on Shanahan, let’s not forget about the Giants. For the entire season, I’ve wanted to do everything I could to forget about the Giants, but they showed up last night. Flying across the country, playing in rough conditions because of the wildfires, they could’ve easily mailed that one in. In fact, it would’ve been better for them if they did, because getting that 27-23 win gives the Raiders the edge in the battle for the first pick. A pick they need way worse than they needed that win. 

But they didn’t roll over. Eli Manning even put together a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter that actually reminded you of the old Eli Manning, not of how old this Eli Manning is. 

And capped it off with this dime to Sterling Shepard for the lead.

As Shepard said: "I just saw man-to-man coverage. That's something we've been practicing. I was able to capture the outside edge and Eli put the ball in a perfect place."

When was the last time anyone said that about Eli? When was the last time the Giants offense seemed to actually work? And that everyone seemed to be on the same page? When was the last time anyone in Giants gear seemed happy?

Again, I’m not saying they’ve turned this thing around. They haven’t. Nor does that mean that everyone who has been killing Eli Manning for the past year or two was wrong and he shut every last one of them up. They weren’t. And he didn’t. Pretty much everything negative that has been said about Manning has been true. The guy is gassed. And he didn’t win his third Super Bowl, he beat a busted up, two win Niners team. And the Giants are now a two-win team this morning. So he’s not back. And nor are the Giants.  But they have to feel a little better about themselves going into the bye with a win; and I’ll admit it, that game was better than I expected, because what I was expected as possibly the worst game of the year and the biggest waste of time ever. And it was neither of those things.