Manning calls shots
He tells teammates to take care of business this week
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - At face value, the message quarterback Eli Manning had for the Giants was essentially bye-week housekeeping.
If you have any team meetings, he said, make sure to get them done this week.
Tickets, friends, family. Square it all away.
“I was just telling them a little bit about how to prepare,’’ Manning said. “We’ve got to have great preparation. Prepare this week like you’re playing the game this week.’’
But the urgency, with the Giants set to face the Patriots in a Super Bowl rematch in less than two weeks, was clear.
Normal routines will go out the window, replaced with hoopla and fanfare. With all the distractions, Manning emphasized how important it will be to remain focused.
“Eli doesn’t say much, but when he says it, he means it and you know it’s coming from the heart,’’ said cornerback Antrel Rolle. “It’s about business. That’s basically what the message was about.’’
“Once you get out to Indianapolis, your routine does get thrown off,’’ Manning said. “You want to try to stay on that same schedule.’’
Much of the hype around the rematch will center on Manning and where he ranks among the league’s elite quarterbacks. The game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, the house built by his brother, Peyton Manning, and it will be played against Tom Brady, a three-time Super Bowl winner and a two-time MVP.
Manning praised Brady, who threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns this season.
“He’s definitely a quarterback you watch,’’ Manning said. “Over the past years, he’s played at an extremely high level, just his playmaking ability, his movement in the pocket, playing smart football.’’
After telling reporters during training camp that he was one of the league’s elite quarterbacks, Manning had one of the best seasons of his career, throwing for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns.
“Eli is the leader of this team without a doubt and I wouldn’t be standing up here right now if it wasn’t for him,’’ Rolle said. “He is an elite quarterback and I don’t think that needs any further more discussion.
“He’s definitely proven himself. I think he’s proven himself before this year, to be honest with you.’’
According to Giants holder Steve Weatherford, just as the team was walking off the field after warm-ups Sunday, video of Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal attempt at the end of the AFC Championship flashed across the scoreboard at Candlestick Park.
He was standing next to Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes.
“It’s not like I saw that kick and was like, ‘Lawrence, did you see that?,’ ’’ said Weatherford. “I definitely wasn’t going to mention anything about it.’’
Even if he had mentioned it, it likely would have done nothing to shake Tynes.
“He’s one of the more confident people on our football team,’’ said defensive end Justin Tuck. “And he’s kind of arrogant at times, too.’’
Tynes’s 31-yard field goal in overtime sent the Giants to the Super Bowl, and Tuck said he is a special breed among kickers, from his unorthodox practice habits to his affinity for hitting the weight room with the other specialists.
“They’re always in the weight room, and I always tell them, ‘That’s not going to help you much,’ ’’ said Tuck.
“Listen, I’ve heard ’em all,’’ Tynes said. “I can take it all. I can give it, too.’’
Tynes connected on 19 of 24 attempts this season.
“I want those guys to have all the faith in the world in me,’’ he said.
The Giants, who have won two of their three playoff games on the road, will wear their away uniforms in the Super Bowl. They also were the “road’’ team when they won four years ago. “It don’t matter what we have on,’’ Rolle said. “We could go out there bare-skinned, you’re going to get the same outcome.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.