While Giants head coach Tom Coughlin’s philosophy stresses a strong running game, many of his offensive players are preparing for a shootout via the air.
That wouldn’t be a shock considering Sunday’s divisional round matchup in Green Bay features two of the top five passers in the game today.
As staunch a supporter as Coughlin is about the running game, he said he has total faith in Manning and Co. should it come down to that.
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“He has confidence and his teammates have great confidence in him,” Coughlin said. “And of course I have great confidence in him.”
Manning went 23-of-40 for 347 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the teams’ first meeting and stayed yard-for-yard with Rodgers (28-of-46 for 369 yards, four touchdowns and one interception).
“I felt like we held our own that last game. It came down to a few plays and a few miscues that we didn’t come through, so I think if we get into a shootout like we did last time I think we will be OK,” said receiver Victor Cruz. “Everybody is hitting their stride and doing the right things at the right time. When everybody is rolling, healthy and ready to go it is hard to key on one specific person [and] hard to double-team one guy or focus on one guy. In our offense we can hit you from different places and areas of the field and with different personnel. … This offense can be very dangerous.”
Cruz added he’s seen holes in the Packers’ defense that lead him to believe chunks of yards are there for the taking.
“In their secondary they like to gamble a lot,” said Cruz. “They like to take a lot of chances and risks, which means they either win or they lose big, which explains why they lead the league in interceptions and why they lead the league in giving up big plays. We understand that and we’ve seen it on film and we see the different areas that we can take advantage of and hopefully we can do that this Sunday.”
Big Blue notes
»Manning hopes to continue his torrid playoffs Sunday. Following his 71.9 completion percentage against the Falcons last week, Manning is now tops in franchise history (60.44), barely ahead of Kerry Collins (60.00).
Manning has 1,574 post-season passing yards and needs 106 to pass Phil Simms’s team record of 1,679. That shouldn’t be a problem against a sieve of a Packers’ secondary, considering Manning is averaging 306.4 yards per game.
The franchise’s career postseason completions record could also fall Sunday. Manning has 136 and Simms holds the record with 157. Manning is averaging 22.5 completions a game.
One record that may need another week to break — should the Giants win — is postseason attempts. Simms is at the top of the list with 279. Manning has 225 and needs 55 to break the mark, but he’s averaging 36.5 passes a game.
» Manning goes by the nickname “Easy” for his laid-back and even-keeled mannerisms, so it’s not difficult to think that Manning isn’t at all rattled about the pressure-packed atmosphere of the NFL playoffs: “It’s definitely exciting. This is fun, though. It’s not a situation where you say, ‘Hey, it’s playoff time [so] let’s get all tensed up and serious.’ It’s a time to be yourself. It is, obviously, a big game. It’s important, but you have to go out there with the attitude that you’re going to enjoy this opportunity, you’re going to have fun with it and you’re going to take everything in. The only way to really have fun playing football is to play at a high level, to play to the best of your ability and make plays.”
»Count Rodgers as a fan of Manning. Rodgers said he respects how level-headed Manning is during tough situations, much like himself: “You have to have a lot of respect for Eli and the way he plays and his consistency. I think you always have to expect him and their offense to make some plays, so you have to go in knowing that you are going to have to put up some points of your own. You understand that Eli has played in big games before and played well so you expect them to play their best and we are going to have to do the same.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.