NEW ORLEANS – Maybe it hadn't been the kind of return to his hometown Eli Manning had been hoping…
A. We thought we had some opportunities. We had some chances the first couple of series especially. That's what I said yesterday (that) we had some opportunities to hit some touchdowns, hit some big plays. We were just a little off. That's football, that's going to happen. It's not like we were playing awful football or making bad mistakes offensively. We just didn't hit some of the big plays that we had opportunities for. That just happens in football sometimes. You can fix that very easily. I think you would rather have it that way, than you are making tons of mistakes, no one is on the same page and no one is getting open. We had guys open; we just have to hit them.
Q. Do you take it as one loss or do you scratch your head and wonder how good are we?
A. No, you take it as one loss, that's football. We did some good things. I don't know if the game came down to one play, it never does. But the play that hurt us was the fumble before halftime. It was an opportunity where we have a chance to maybe go down and get a field goal. Even if we don't, you're still only down ten points at halftime and we get the ball to start the second half. You never know how it goes. You don't know if the game changes that way. I think at least it is a tighter game and maybe we can get back into it, have more momentum going into halftime. We still did a lot of good things and stuff we can build from. I think we will learn a lot of things from it. Things we have to clean up, our communication and what not, playing on the road. From my sense I've got to get down on the line of scrimmage, make sure everybody is on the same page and knows exactly what is going on. I think we can learn from it and get better from it.
Q. How disappointed were you that you couldn't get the team in the end zone in the second half?
A. Yeah, we had some chances. Obviously we got one called back, which is disappointing. The third quarter we needed to get a spark and get some plays going, we just couldn't get anything going. We had the interception so that hurt. You get into the fourth quarter, we are down a whole lot, and it becomes a deal where we are throwing every down. It is just tough. They were doing a good job throwing different blitzes, giving different looks. We hit a couple, we hit one big play going down to Hakeem, but we had to settle for a field goal after the penalty. We can learn from it. We weren't awful offensively, we did some good things, we moved the ball at times, we scored seventeen points in the first half. That is not a bad first half. We just had two turnovers and some missed opportunties on some chances to get some touchdowns.
Q. Does this change your perception on your expectations moving forward?
A. No, it doesn't change our expectations. We still think we are a good team, we have a lot of good players and we're talented. We can score points, move the ball and play good football. No one goes through a season where you are playing perfect football offensively and everything goes as planned. You are going to make mistakes. Other teams are going to have something on you where they can make plays. We have a lot of young players on this team and we knew there were going to be some growing pains. Things they have to experience, witness, see some defenses, see some different things, we are going to make some mistakes. It is about correcting those, getting those mistakes out, learning from those and getting better.
Q. Did you think you were a little too aggressive on offense, especially on those early third and short situations?
A. That's just what the defense gave us. It's not like we were calling plays to necessarily throw the ball down the field. We were calling crossing routes against man to man coverage where hopefully you are throwing the ball three or four yards and guys are just running away from defenders. That is the play that was called and then all of a sudden they pass it off, the safety sits down on the crossing route and now you've got a shot down the field so you take those opportunities.…when you have opportunities where guys can run a post route and there is no middle safety I think you have to make those throws. Later in the game, we had another third and short where I underthrew Hakeem a little bit. You look back on film you could say yeah you could throw it to Kevin Boss and get the first down. When you go through your reads, I see a receiver down the field running free, you've got to take those opportunities when you get them. You don't force it, but we had opportunities. We've got to connect on those. Those are plays we have been making and we've just got to hit those.
Q. So it is not necessarily the play call but what the defense does is how you react?
A. Yeah, we had practiced those plays and we knew Sharper liked to sit. So you kind of say hey, if he is back, then we go to hit the underneath stuff; if he sits down, then we've got to hit these throws. The one to Steve Smith, they were doubling Steve Smith, he has options to run different things on that route, he saw the double, one guy inside, one guy outside, and he runs right through him. That is something we talked about, if they play that we might have an opportunity to run right through them. It happened just like we thought and we didn't connect on it. Another blown opportunity.
Q. When you lose a game like that by such a large margin, are you itching to get back on the field? Do you almost want to play today?
A. Yeah, I mean it's tough, especially your first loss. The first time you come in on a Monday after a loss, everybody is upset, everybody is a little mad. But we aren't discouraged and that is important. That is important for some of our young guys especially. You want to make sure that when there are some things to improve on, mistakes and what not, you can't get discouraged, you can't get down. We have to come back and learn from it. You keep getting better, keep improving; come back on Wednesday, have a great practice, and put this one behind us.
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