It wasn’t pretty at times on Sunday, but Eli Manning made it work.
For the second straight Sunday, Manning played without his starting wide receivers. And for the second straight Sunday, the Giants walked off the field with a win.
Manning connected on 15 of 25 passes for 161 yards on a day that the Giants rode the ground game and a punishing defense to a 31-7 win over the Redskins.
Manning found a good rhythm with Derrick Hagan early on, hitting the journeyman wideout six times for 56 yards in the first half. With Mario Manningham locked down by DeAngelo Hall, Manning and Hagan abused ‘Skins CB Phillip Buchanon so often that he was removed from the position in the second half.
Manning also threw a costly pick with 5:50 to go in the second quarter when he tried to hit Kevin Boss in the back of the end zone, but forced his throw into triple-coverage. It was picked off by London Fletcher.
But the Giants got the ball back after an Anthony Armstrong fumble on the Washington 39, the Giants rode Ahmad Bradshaw (four carries, 27 yards on the drive) to a touchdown to go up, 21-0 at the half.
“When it comes to December in Giants Stadium you are going to have to run the ball and we were able to do that,” Manning said.
Hagan finished with seven catches on eight targets for 65 yards. He may fall out of the rotation when Hakeem Nicks (lower leg) and Steve Smith return, but Manning hopes there is room for him.
“I think he has earned a spot for sure,” Manning said. “Whether he is a fourth receiver or a third and you mix him in or bring him in… he has definitely earned a spot on this team with just the way he has prepared and the way he has played, especially this week.”
Smith has missed four games and is hopeful to return this week. Nicks will resume running on Wednesday after presumably getting the stitches out of his leg on Sunday. Earlier this week, Nicks said he was optimistic about returning Sunday against Minnesota.