Manning outplays McNabb on third down

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

On the surface, neither Eli Manning nor Donovan McNabb put up great numbers Sunday. But upon closer inspection, it turns out that Manning was much more efficient on third down.

He was 7-of-10 for 103 yards and a touchdown. And six of those passes went for first downs. McNabb was a woeful 2-of-7 for 49 yards and an interception on third down. Manning struggled on first down (4-of-12), but the fact that the Giants averaged 6.5 yards per rushing attempt helped offset that number.

On third down, Manning had a passer rating of 136.7. McNabb checked in with a 16. What that suggests is that Manning was at his best when the stakes were highest. He seems to have the ability to focus in pressure situations.

According to ESPN Stats & Analysis, McNabb overthrew five of his intended targets and under threw three of them. He also had six passes deflected and one of those under throws was picked off by Sam Madison in the second quarter. And cornerback Aaron Ross dropped another one.

As far as big division games go, it's as poorly as I've seen McNabb play. Yet there he was with a chance to lead the Eagles to a late win. He couldn't answer the bell -- and the Eagles missed a golden opportunity.