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Newman Impressed by "New Eli"


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Confident Eli puzzles Dallas

 

Cowboys see a different Manning

 

Saturday, January 12, 2008

BY KEVIN MANAHAN

Star-Ledger Staff

 

IRVING, Texas -- There are some things around here that just don't make sense.

 

Take the tolls on the President George Bush Turnpike, for instance. A few miles from the Dallas Cowboys' training facility, drivers without the Texas equivalent of E-ZPass must pull up to a booth and pay a buck. The attendant takes the bill, then tosses four quarters into the toll basket.

 

 

 

 

To us Jerseyans, who know tolls, the last part makes no sense.

 

And then there's the thing that has been puzzling Terence Newman, the Cowboys cornerback, for the last week or so: Why all of the criticism and all of the hits haven't taken a toll on Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

 

After watching Manning's poised performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the playoffs, Newman was scratching his head, like an out-of-towner trying to understand the toll ritual.

 

The Bucs' defensive backs tried to jump pass routes for easy turnovers, but Manning fooled them with pump fakes and didn't throw an interception. The blitzers kept coming, but Manning found the open receiver. He didn't panic.

 

To the Cowboys, who know Manning, the last part makes no sense.

 

"Earlier in the season, you saw him turn around and run and try to get out of the pocket," Newman said. "He definitely is stepping up in the postseason. It's going to be fun to face him."

 

Newman and the Cowboys -- the Giants' opponents in tomorrow's NFC Division Playoff Game -- have faced Manning twice this season. Even though Manning completed 51 of 75 passes for 548 yards and five TDs, the Cowboys hadn't been all that impressed. Sacked six times in the two losses, Manning also has thrown three interceptions -- and two of those hurt the Giants in the 31-20 loss in November.

 

After getting just one sack in the season-opener, when Manning threw for a season-high 312 yards, the Cowboys schemed to rough him up. And in the second meeting, they sacked him five times from different five angles with five different players, and all that pounding brought his alter-ego -- The Old Eli -- to the surface.

 

 

 

But then the Cowboys watched the video of the Bucs slapping him in the head, shoving him around and trying everything but sawing the floor beneath him. Manning didn't even flinch.

 

"He didn't let anything rattle him in that game," Newman said. "Guys were running around at his feet and he was still looking downfield. The old Eli probably would have just fallen down and taken a sack.

 

 

"But now this guy is making smart decisions -- he's dumping the ball off, he's throwing the ball out of bounds, he's keeping the drives alive."

 

The Cowboys, while concerned Manning might have elevated his game just in time for them, aren't changing their game plan: They're coming after him again.

 

"That's exactly what we plan to do," cornerback Anthony Henry said.

 

Manning, with his highest passer ratings of the season coming in the past two games, has been helped by balanced and effective play-calling. The Giants' running game -- with bruising Brandon Jacobs, slashing Ahmad Bradshaw and some deceptive play-action -- could slow the pass rush. Jacobs rushed for only 66 yards against the Bucs, but he scored twice -- on a catch and a run.

 

"They're rolling," Henry said. "They came together better as a team after the loss to Washington, when they didn't play that well. It looks like some of the leaders, like Eli, have stepped up. He looks more confident in the pocket, and they're doing a better job of protecting him. He has the confidence to make big plays now."

 

Still, on obvious passing downs, the offensive line will have to contain the Cowboys' pass-rushers -- particularly linebackers DeMarcus Ware (14 sacks) and Greg Ellis (12 1/2 sacks). Both had sacks in the November victory over the Giants.

 

Henry, signed by the Cowboys to handle tall and physical receivers, will be given the assignment of covering Manning's favorite target, taller-than-a-flagpole Plaxico Burress.

 

"He likes to throw the ball up high to Burress," Henry said. "He likes to throw those jump-balls. So I've got to get into Plaxico's face and keep him from making plays. It's positioning."

 

Newman, who has four interceptions, was the first Cowboys player to mention The New Eli, but he isn't sure exactly when the change occurred -- maybe in the loss to the Patriots.

 

"I don't know exactly when it happened," he said. "I just know that's he's playing pretty good right now."

 

 

 

Kevin Manahan can be reached at

kmanahan@starledger.com

 

 

 

NJ.com

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Yeah, it's like in the Pats game Eli tried it once and thought to himself "Holy shit E-dogg, pump fakes work great." Then vs Tampa it was a part of his game.

 

 

No way he said that, he said this being a Southern Gentlemen:

 

"Oh gorsh Mr. Gilbride these fakes actually work, well GOLLY!"

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