Eli Manning's late-game savvy nothing new to New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ninety-two seconds.

You can't fully microwave a Hot Pocket in 92 seconds. Or fill your gas tank. Or -- trust us on this one -- cash a check at the local bank.

Ninety-two scant seconds.

To Eli Manning, though, that kind of time must seem like an eternity. Especially when he actually needed just 19 seconds on Sunday to rescue the New York Giants from the Washington Redskins and secure a 27-23 victory.

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will re-air the New York  Giants' 27-23 victory over the Washington Redskins in Week 7 on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

"With our offense and with Eli at the helm," wide receiver Victor Cruz said, "we're never really too worried."

Giants linebacker Michael Boley: "We have the best quarterback in the league. It's never over."

In his ninth season, Manning continues to redefine -- and refine -- what it means to be clutch. And his teammates realize it, which is vital. They don't sweat on the sideline.

"I've been on this team for three years," Jason Pierre-Paul said. "I know how Eli works."

"Does he ever cease to amaze me? No," coach Tom Coughlin said. "When his back is up against the wall, that's when he does his best work."

Opponents are also aware of this. And never underestimate the effect it can have on them, knowing that as long as time remains, a cold-blooded closer -- or home-run hitter, depending on your perspective -- is waiting to win a tight game for the Giants.

Next time, there's no doubt the Redskins will remember that.

"Right now, (Manning) is (the best late-game quarterback in the league)," Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said. "He won this one."

As Washington coach Mike Shanahan said, "He sure proved it today."

Let us review: With 1:38 to play, Robert Griffin III delivered, via rainbow, an almost-perfect pass to Santana Moss in the end zone, giving the Redskins a 23-20 lead. Griffin had Road Runner'd Giants defenders on critical downs all afternoon, and, it appeared, he'd just unleashed the spiral that would finally break their hearts.

(Asked to assess the long-term prospect of facing RG3 as a regular NFC East foe, Coughlin chose to answer in the short term, saying, "We have to play him one more time this year, thank you." That's what these Giants do better than most: They deal with what's in front of them. That's how a 7-7 team authored an improbable run last season that ended with a Super Bowl victory in February.)

There was a reason, though, that Griffin's pass was merely "almost perfect": He'd left too much time on the clock for Manning. And the folks on the Giants sideline knew it.

"I'm sure (everyone knew Manning was) going to make a big play for us at the end of the game," guard Kevin Boothe said. "He's unflappable."

For most of the afternoon, however, Manning had struggled. He threw behind Cruz in the end zone; he missed Hakeem Nicks on the sideline. His two second-half interceptions came on possessions that had immediately followed Redskins turnovers. Manning's 78.9 passer rating Sunday represented a season low.

His second pick, with 7:10 to play, was particularly hideous, thrown right to linebacker Rob Jackson. On the sideline, Coughlin bent over, hands on his knees. "That one," he would later say, "was a lump in my throat."

But absolutely none of that mattered with 92 seconds left, when the Giants got the ball back. Because there is no one in the NFL right now who can better put a bad play, or a bad day, behind him.

"Eli never wavers; he's never distraught out there," Cruz said. "He's never panicking."

Down three from his own 23-yard line, Manning missed Ahmad Bradshaw by five yards on first-and-10.

On the next play, Manning dropped back and uncorked a throw downfield -- releasing the ball earlier than he'd wanted to, because a defender was bearing down -- to find Cruz on a seam route. A 77-yard touchdown.

"Great throw, double-covered, hit it right on the money," Shanahan said.

It was Manning's 10th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime in the past two seasons -- his 10th in just 27 games.

In their 88-year history, the Giants had never taken a lead so late with a play so long. Yet there was no sense of wonder in the Giants' locker room after the game.

"That's what we do," guard Chris Snee said. He paused for dramatic effect. "It's good for TV."

The Giants won a game for just the second time in franchise history while allowing 480 yards or more. The last time they did that was in 1962.

They won a game in which Manning made mistakes he said he "hated," sparking, he suggested, a desire to atone.

"I needed to make a play and help out our team," he said.

And he did just that, surprising no one. It's what valuable players do. Maybe, just maybe, it's what the most valuable player in the NFL just did.

"That's why Eli Manning is Eli Manning," Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora said.

Really, that says it all, doesn't it?

Follow Kimberly Jones on Twitter @KimJonesSports.

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