Eli says he 'needed to play better'

Giants QB Eli Manning finished the season with 3,948 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. John Munson/The Star-Ledger/USA TODAY Sports

Eli Manning had two of the best games he has ever had this season.

He set career-highs of 510 yards passing against Tampa Bay and threw for five touchdowns in the season finale against Philadelphia.

But overall, 2012 was a bit of a step back for Manning. Coming off his best season ever in 2011, Manning failed to throw for 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns for the first time since 2008.

“I don’t think it was as good as it needed to be,” Manning said on his weekly appearance on WFAN radio of his play this past season. “I think there were a couple of games where (I) wasn’t as on and I needed to play better.”

As hot as Manning got in the Tampa and Philadelphia wins, he also went ice cold at times.

He had a three-game touchdown drought in the middle of the season -– the worst stretch since his rookie season which sparked speculation of a tired arm –- and threw for one touchdown or less in 10 games this season.

Manning admitted that Hakeem Nicks’ knee injury robbed the offense of a lot.

“Not having Hakeem 100 percent for most of the season really the last 10 weeks can hurt,” Manning said. “He is out there playing hurt and you love that toughness about him.

“It just made it tough when you are starting a receiver who’s got to win those one-on-one matchups and is your deep threat and playmaker,” Manning continued. “It can be tough to adjust to that and timing was off on a number of things.”

Not having a consistent third receiving threat also hurt as the Giants struggled to replace Mario Manningham.

Manning said having the stability of the same head coach and offensive coordinator beside him will help in the offseason.

“It’s a great advantage to have,” Manning said. “It is going to be the same offense and we are going to be able to grow and expand. Each year our offensive coaches work hard to see what concepts are really working well for us and what is not and what can we learn that other teams are doing.”

“Having receivers come back and offensive linemen who know the ins and outs are all positive things,” he added. “We will have some new guys in their second and third year that kind of (need to) make that jump into making more plays. And we will work hard to get the keyed up and ready to play for us.”

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