Eli Manning: 'I have to be smarter'

Eli Manning says: "I don't think I can just get worried about the number" of interceptions (7 total). Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger/USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning had to relive each of his four interceptions on Monday during film study.

While there was a reason and story behind each interception, Manning knows the turnovers have to stop. Through two games, the Giants have 10 turnovers, and Manning leads the NFL with seven interceptions.

Manning knows he has to be “smarter” and more accurate with his throws.

“Turnovers are going to lose you football games,” Manning said. “And so we’ve got to eliminate the turnovers. Every interception has its own story, but I have to be smarter with the football and throw the ball more accurately, and we’ve got to make some plays.”

The Giants have a ton of issues to correct starting with taking care of the ball. Manning knows the Giants will not survive when he’s throwing three or more picks per game.

So even though he is second in passing yards by 1 yard behind Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (813 yards), Manning has a 75.9 quarterback rating due to the picks and a 60.4 completion percentage.

It hasn’t helped that the Giants' running game has been nonexistent thus far. The Giants rushed for just 23 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. It was the Giants’ lowest rushing output in 24 years.

Through two games, the Giants have managed just 73 rushing yards. Still, even without a running game, Manning says he has not been pressing.

He explained each of his four picks against Denver.

“The first interception was just a bad play, a bad decision by me,” Manning said. “The second one was just a weird throw off a heel, and then after that we were down 22 points. One was a fourth-and-10 and probably pressing. The next one was just a bad play.

“But I think for the most part we’ve been throwing the ball well and doing some good things. We’ve been stuck in some second-and-longs, third-and-longs. We’ve got to get the running game, we’ve got to be more balanced, and I think that will help things out.”

Not all of Manning’s seven interceptions have been his fault. There was the fluky one that was batted down and then ricocheted off the heel of a Denver cornerback and into the arms of another Denver defender for a pick. There was also the interception that glanced off Da’Rel Scott’s hands and resulted in a pick-six against Dallas in the opener. And there has been an interception or two off miscommunication.

So while seven interceptions is a big number through two weeks, Manning isn’t focused on the overall number but rather the cause and situation of each interception.

“I don’t think I can just get worried about the number,” he said. “I’ve got to look at the plays and look at the decision-making on my part. ... Hopefully we just don’t get in those games where you’re down 22 points in the fourth quarter. At that point, I like to tell myself, 'Don’t throw interceptions, don’t force things when you don’t have to,' but I’m going to compete.

“If it’s fourth-and-10, I’m going to give a guy a shot to make a play and if it looks like it’s double coverage. ... But I’m not going to lay down. So I think I’ve just got to look at each play and kind of see is it a bad throw? Is it a bad decision? Is it a misread? I’m not having many of those. Those aren’t the cases.”

If the Giants can get a rushing attack going, Manning can use play-action, which can make Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle that much more dangerous.

And getting an early lead against Carolina on Sunday would also be a big help. So far, Manning has 91 pass attempts –- tied for third-most in the NFL through two weeks.

“It is a big game,” Manning said of facing the Panthers. “We’re 0-2 right now. We’re looking for our first win, but I think guys have got to keep their heads up, look at the good things and look where we’ve got to make improvements.

“We can only get better,” Manning added.