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Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006

Elder Manning teaches brother another lesson on gridiron

Staff writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When Eli Manning was playing for Ole Miss, his elder brother Peyton, who already established himself as one of the top passers in the NFL, taught him how to study films and how to read the defense.

Time has past. Now Peyton gave another lesson to Eli in their first head-to-head matchup in professional football -- how to win a game, that is.

During the Indianapolis Colts' 26-21 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night, Peyton completed 25 of 41 passes for 276 yards, throwing for one score and an interception. Not a very spectacular performance considering the spectacular standard he's set for himself, including the NFL's single-season touchdown record (49 in 2004).

Eli even had a better passer rating -- Eli's 88.7 to Peyton's 78.9 -- when he went 20-for-34 for 247 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an interception.

But the winner was the elder brother.

Peyton showed the difference in the last seconds of the first half. Right after the Giants scored a touchdown that cut the Colts' lead to 13-7, the Colts had a possession with only 25 seconds to go. Many teams would choose to eat the ball to end the half, but that was not the case with the Colts. The reason? Their quarterback is Peyton Manning, a two-time NFL MVP.

Starting at their own 38-yard line, Peyton threw three straight successful passes to advance the ball to the New York 32. Two players later, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal to extend Indy's lead to 16-7 and give it momentum before halftime.

On the other hand, Eli showed his immaturity by making mistakes at clutch moments. With Indianapolis up 16-14 in the third quarter, R.W. McQuarters intercepted Peyton's pass and gave the Giants possession at the Indianapolis 46. But two plays later, Eli fumbled the ball and gave the possession away.

In the fourth quarter, when the Colts led by two points, Eli threw an interception that set up Vinatieri's 32-yard field goal. And during the Giants' final possession, Eli had two incompletions that turned out costly.

There was also a difference in their mentality. Peyton told the media after the game that he had fun watching his younger brother play while Eli said he could do nothing but concentrate on his own offense.

By all accounts, Eli needs more experience and time to develop as an NFL QB to catch up to his elder brother's level. But he is talented and has a good work ethic. Moreover, he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2004 just like Peyton was in 1998. He could be one of the better quarterback in the league for years to come. When the Mannings meet each other next time, Eli should play more maturely and better.

Next time? Four years later or one of these years in the Super Bowl.

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