"I think that the more he plays the better he is going to be," Coughlin said. "I think from looking at it from a standpoint of one half to the second half, I think it's kind of obvious that the more he plays the better he is going to be, the sharper he is going to be. I know that for a fact.
"One of the things that concerned me going in was having not played and was he going to be able to adjust to the speed of the game, was he going to be able to do that? He did a good job of that. However, he didn't set his feet on occasion, kind of threw across his body, hurried some of the throws. He felt like the timing was kind of running down on some things route-wise, and he got in a hurry to make some throws. I think in another week or so he'll make those throws, they'll be more accurate throws."
Coughlin said the Giants dropped six of Manning's passes, including five in the first half. Manning took responsibility for those miscues. So did tight end Jeremy Shockey - at least on those balls thrown to him.
"We should have made the catches," Shockey said. "He's a competitive person; he's going to say that. But he's a pleasure to play with. He's going to be here a while and a lot of people in this locker room are going to be here a long time. We just have to straighten some things out and make plays for him. When he makes passes, it's our job to catch them, wherever they are. There are no excuses for whatever ball we dropped."
Like everyone connected with the Giants, Shockey is excited about Manning's ability and potential.
"As a young quarterback coming in, Eli played well enough to win the game," Shockey said. "Myself - we left a lot of plays out there.
"He had confidence. He did everything this organization asked him to do. It's hard, because he played a great game. He played well enough for us to win and the skill positions - myself - we didn't really make plays for him and we didn't really help him out as much as we should."
"I'm encouraged by how we all played in the second half, especially Eli," running back Tiki Barber said. "In the first half we put ourselves behind the eight ball and it wasn't an easy situation for him. We came back hard and we played hard and played with a lot of effort. We, unfortunately, couldn't get it done. But I think Eli played great. He made some right decisions. He responded well."
Manning said he was as low-key and calm on game day as he was throughout the week, when he showed little emotion about his promotion.
"I didn't get too nervous or too pumped-up," he said. "I was trying to get the ball out of my hand quickly and make fast decisions and fast reads. For the most part, I think I did that. Sometimes I was a little too hurried, trying to get the ball out of my hand too quickly."
Once he becomes more comfortable as the starter, those facets of his game should improve.
"I have to get better," Manning said. "The more I work with these guys and these receivers, the more comfortable I'll be, and the better timing we'll have with each other."
Slow starters: Manning was the 18th quarterback to start a game for the Giants in the Giants Stadium era (including Craig Morton and Norm Snead, who joined the team earlier and were still on the team when the Stadium opened in 1976). Manning is the fourth quarterback in a row to lose his debut, joining Kerry Collins, Jesse Palmer and Kurt Warner. Overall, Giants quarterbacks are 8-9-1 in their starting debuts.
High praise: Jeremy Shockey sees really big things in Manning's future.
"He's a pleasure to play with," he said. "He does everything right and we can't afford to do anything wrong when he makes perfect passes. When I drop them and people drop his passes, you have to expect where the ball is going to be, because he's going to put it where the defender is not going to be. So we have to get used to that. His mobility is great. He can get out of the pocket and make plays. I'm confident in him, I want him to be confident in me.
"I'd rather play with him than anybody else in the NFL right now. He's going to be special."
Been there, done that: "I think Eli is definitely going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league and be able to develop into the quarterback that possibly could be better than his brother, and I just know that he prepares himself to be better than his brother," said Donovan McNabb, the second overall pick in the 1999 Draft. "I think things will work out well for him."
For starters: Manning was unable to duplicate the success of his father when he made his first NFL start against Atlanta. Archie Manning won his first NFL start, for a New Orleans Saints team that finished 4-8-2 in 1971. Eli's brother Peyton lost his initial start for the Indianapolis Colts in 1998.
Here's how the Mannings did in their NFL starting debuts:
|| W, 24-20
|| L, 24-15
|| L, 14-10
* Archie Manning was 35-101-3 (.263) as an NFL starter. Peyton was 61-45 (.575), plus 2-4 in the playoffs.