Eli Manning exits with gash to forehead

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning said he is fine after suffering a 3-inch laceration on his head and needing 12 stitches, the result of a second-quarter hit on Monday night.

On third-and-1 at the Jets' 5-yard line with 11:03 remaining in the second quarter, Manning dropped back to pass on a running play and ran into Brandon Jacobs before getting drilled in the back by New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace.

With his helmet flying off, Manning fell forward and hit Jets safety Jim Leonhard's facemask. Manning got up before staggering to his knee as blood trickled down his face from his forehead.

Manning showed no signs of a concussion, according to the Giants, and underwent an X-ray that revealed no damage. The Giants' franchise quarterback was sent home during the Giants' 31-16 preseason opening rout over the Jets but he said he could have returned to the field if necessary.

"I feel fine," Manning said in a statement released by the Giants. "I feel normal.

"I'll be back as soon as I can. It's really not an injury. Nothing serious. I really feel like I could go back out and play right now if I had to."

Manning is the one player the team can simply not afford to lose. Backups Jim Sorgi -- who was Peyton Manning's understudy in Indianapolis -- and Rhett Bomar have never started an NFL game.

Fortunately, the Giants -- who played Monday night without 13 players who sat out mostly for precautionary reasons -- have a tough starting quarterback. Manning has started the Giants' last 87 regular-season games and it appears that streak will be intact when the Giants open the season against Carolina in September.

"He was a little shaken up," said center Shaun O'Hara. "That is kind of a freak thing. Eli is a little squirmy too when it comes to his own blood, so kudos to him for not fainting. But we are all concerned for Eli."

Manning took the blame for the play which was called for Jacobs to run up the middle. Manning had an option to throw a fade and decided to look for Ramses Barden in the right corner of the end zone -- but he failed to tell Jacobs.

That's when the busted play happened, and it looked like the Giants' worst nightmare as Manning made like a human pinball. He absorbed three consecutive shots from colliding with Jacobs to getting pummeled by Pace on a clean shot to his unprotected head hitting Leonhard's facemask.

"The play was my fault," said Manning, who completed four of eight passes for 77 yards, 51 of them coming off a shovel pass to Ahmad Bradshaw after he avoided a sack. "Sometimes you make a mistake and you get hit in the head. It's preseason. You learn from it."

Head coach Tom Coughlin said the key for the Giants is to see if Manning's head swells overnight. But it appears their franchise quarterback may have dodged serious injury.

"Eli is fine," Jacobs said. "There is nothing frightening. Eli is fine. He is going to wake up in the morning, going to come back to camp ready to work, it's not going to be an issue at all."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.