(Reuters) - Eli Manning’s knack for taking risks finally ended in reward on Thursday, as the New York Giants’ unpredictable quarterback walked a tight rope to his first win of the season.
The two-time Super Bowl winner has made a career out of living dangerously, producing both critical plays and head-scratching mistakes.
Manning had began the 2015 campaign doing more of the latter as his miscues led to an 0-2 start for the Giants.
He rediscovered some of his quarterback magic in time to lead New York to a 32-21 victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
“We needed a win bad,” Manning told reporters after tossing for 279 yards and two touchdowns. “We’ve been in there at the end and weren’t able to hold on (the past two weeks), so that was our emphasis tonight: win the fourth quarter.”
The veteran signal-caller seized the pivotal quarter against Washington with a pair of TD throws that were signature Manning.
The first, was an across-the-field throw that was slightly off target but snatched out of the air by acrobatic wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Manning put the stamp on the triumph with a 41-yard throw to Rueben Randle that initially bounced off the receiver and fortuitously eluded defender Bashaud Breeland before falling back into Randle’s hands.
A bounce here, or there, and Manning could have once again been the culprit of a devastating defeat as he was during the opening two weeks of the season when the Giants twice blew 10-point leads in the fourth quarter.
Such is always the case for Manning, however, who plays as a study in contrasts.
He produced a pair of indelible Super Bowl wins, highlighted by his throw to David Tyree in the closing moments of Super Bowl XLII, but also twice led the NFL in interceptions during forgettable 2010 and 2013 campaigns.
The current Giants (1-2) have now gained some momentum in the wild NFC East Division. Beckham Jr. continues to cement himself as a top target, and sidelined receiver Victor Cruz could return to the team next week.
New York can only hope that the best version of their suspenseful quarterback returns as well.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Sudipto Ganguly