Chemistry on the line
Eli Manning has been taking a similar path to Joe Flacco as he leads to the New York Giants.
Both quarterbacks are struggling, as are their teams offensively.
The Giants play at the Ravens on Sunday still seeking to clinch a playoff berth. The Ravens already have secured a spot and can claim the AFC North with a victory, or a loss in an earlier game by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Manning has thrown for 3,590 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His team started 6-2 and was in control of the NFC East. But the Giants have lost four of their last six.
Flacco has 3,474 yards, 20 TDs and 10 INTs as the Ravens have lost three in a row since starting 9-2.
Both have faced their share of detractors, but Manning has won two Super Bowl titles. Flacco has gotten to two AFC title games in his first four seasons, but the defense is largely credited with that success.
"Joe’s been a good player. Obviously, he's led his team to another playoff (berth) year this year. (He) makes a lot of plays," Manning said of Flacco. "He’s turned into a guy who seems like a good leader and has put his team in great opportunities. Last year they were right there –- a play away from making the Super Bowl."
Before Manning won his first championship in 2007, he faced similar questions about his demeanor, fire and ability to come thorugh in the clutch. Not any more.
"I haven’t heard any of the criticism if he’s getting any,” Manning said. “At the quarterback position, anytime you lose a few games, the quarterback usually gets criticism. That’s just the lay of the land in most instances. All you can do is work through it."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin recognizes Flacco is a threat. When he's on, like he was in a comeback victory against the New England Patriots in Week 3 when Flacco threw for 382 yards, the Ravens are difficult to beat.
"He’s an outstanding deep-ball thrower. He shows great courage in the pocket. He’ll step up and throw the ball in the face of the rush," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He does have the ability to move around the perimeter, and he will run if he has to. That isn’t necessarily his style, but he will. So, I see a good, young quarterback who’s grown in the system that they’ve developed…. He seems to be getting better all the time."