This certainly felt like a finale for Eli Manning, unless it wasn’t.
He started Sunday at MetLife Stadium as the Giants beat the Dolphins 36-20, but Manning remains the backup quarterback. When rookie Daniel Jones is fully healed from a high ankle sprain, he will return to the field and Manning will return to the sideline.
“We have two games left to go and we’ll just have to see,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Dan is trying to come back from injury and who knows where he’s going to be? The end of last week he was in a boot, at the end of the week he was practicing. But I don’t know how much better he’s going to be. There’s a chance that Eli keeps playing.”
Manning was asked if he would like to start another game.
“Of course I’d like to,” he said. “I know Daniel’s getting close to getting ready and getting better. We’ll see what his status is. I get it either way. I know they want to get him back and get him more experience. Whatever I’m asked to do I’ll do it.”
Jones was hurt Dec. 1 against the Packers. It was described as a moderate high ankle sprain and considered a 2-4 week injury.
Rookie CB DeAndre Baker had to be helped off the field early in the third quarter after he collided with teammate David Mayo and got hit directly on the knee. Baker was replaced by Antonio Hamilton, the opening day starter. It looked to be a significant injury, but Baker was able to return later in the quarter.
Rookie LB Oshane Ximines combined with Markus Golden for a 10-yard sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter. It gave Ximines 2.5 sacks in the past two games and 4.5 this season.
Nick Gates started at right guard in place of injured Kevin Zeitler. It is an important audition for Gates, who made his NFL debut this season after starting 25 consecutive games in college at Nebraska.
“I think he’s got a bright future,” Shurmur said.
WR Darius Slayton shares the NFL lead for rookies with eight touchdown receptions. Slayton has three in the last two games, all from Manning. Slayton hauled in a 5-yard scoring pass from Manning early in the third quarter. It was touchdown pass No. 366 for Manning and it could be his last one. Slayton kept the football.
“Well, if he wants it, he can have it,” Slayton said, “But if he doesn’t ask for it, it will go home with me.”
By winning, the Giants avoided setting the wrong kind of team history. Their losing streak ended at nine games, matching the 1976 team. The Giants have never lost 10 consecutive games in one season.
For a second straight game, RB Wayne Gallman was a healthy scratch, dropping him deeper and deeper down the depth chart. Veteran Buck Allen moved ahead of Gallman and ran eight times for 28 yards, as the Giants rushed for 138 yards.