- Aug 18, 2005
SAN DIEGO---- Chargers fans had more than a few choice words to welcome the man who told them to take a hike last year.
This morning, they could be whispering a sigh of relief now that quarterback Eli Manning is back in the Big Apple.
The Chargers beat Manning and the Giants 45-23 on Sunday night at Qualcomm Stadium, but not before the former University of Mississippi star lit up the Chargers' secondary for 352 yards and two touchdowns. Manning, who shunned the Chargers before the 2004 NFL draft, completed 24-of-41 passes and turned in an impressive 102.9 passer rating.
It was a career-best performance for Manning, but not one that was worth celebrating in his mind.
"It goes down as a loss," he said. "My first two games I didn't play well but ended with a win, and I'll take that any day of the week."
The Chargers' faithful fulfilled its duty as the 12th man as the Giants' offense was penalized twice for false starts and once for delay of game. Manning also was forced to call two timeouts before the play clock expired.
"It was loud," said Manning, who is still searching for his first road win as a starter. "At times we had some trouble getting to the line of scrimmage. It wasn't worse than I expected. Nothing was thrown at me, and nothing out of the ordinary happened that I was upset about."
But as the fans were giving Manning all the decibels he could handle, the packed house at Qualcomm Stadium also witnessed the emergence of a third Manning NFL star.
The son of Archie and brother of Peyton showed poise from the outset, starting with his first pass of the game, a 32-yard completion to Jeremy Shockey. He was 4-of-5 in the first series, and it was more of the same the first 30 minutes as he completed 14-of-22 passes for 206 yards with two scores.
How much self-assurance did the 24-year-old show?
With his team down 21-3 midway through the second quarter, Manning calmly went to work and quickly got the Giants right back in the game with two touchdown passes---- one to Plaxico Burress from 5 yards out and the other to David Tyree with 1:55 left in the first half, a 4-yard score that cut the Chargers' lead to 21-17.
"Eli, I thought, was extremely poised," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He was focused, and he didn't let anything bother him. There was a very loud, enthusiastic crowd, but I thought he handled it very well."
Said Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer: "I thought he looked pretty good. He didn't make any mistakes and he was pretty accurate all night."