New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is one of the most clutch quarterbacks we’ve seen in this past decade, and he wowed the NFL world yet again yesterday by tossing a 77-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz with just over a minute left against the Washington Redskins. The Giants were down by three and ended up winning the game 27-23, which was Manning’s eighth regular season game-winning drive since the start of 2011.
It’s almost getting to the point where you can expect the heroics to happen, and when it does it’s not all that surprising. Cruz said it best after the game yesterday, and I’m paraphrasing here, “As an offense with Eli at the helm we’re never really worried no matter how many points we’re down.”
Obviously Manning has had games where he has not come through in the clutch, and nobody is going to be perfect in those moments, but he’s been so good and I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. The closest thing to it is Tom Brady, who led game-winning field goal drives in his first two Super Bowl appearances and has a knack for game-winning drives himself. Some may even say his body of work in the clutch is better.
But Rodney Harrison isn’t buying it. Harrison, who played with Brady, said on NBC’s Football Night in America that Manning is the best quarterback in the league right now.
“Eli is the best quarterback in the NFL.” said Harrison. When asked by Tony Dungy if he was better than Aaron Rodgers, Harrison responded with “Rodgers, (Tom) Brady. Better than all of them.”
That’s a bold statement, especially considering Harrison played with Brady and won championships with the guy.
Look, as a Giants fan I wouldn’t trade Manning for anyone. He’s one of the top quarterbacks in the league and he gets it done in the playoffs. That said, I still believe he’s not the top quarterback in the league. That honor goes to Rodgers, with Brady and Drew Brees close behind him at two and three.
Manning is too inconsistent to be considered the best. The truth of the matter is he didn’t play that well yesterday, but came through when it mattered. All that matters for the team is getting the win, no matter how ugly, but when evaluating quarterbacks you have to take everything into account.