Vikings pick on Eli

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

At the time of each and every season when NFL fans stuff their bellies with gravy-soaked turkey, it always seems like Eli Manning starts playing like one.

Manning's history of post-Thanksgiving struggles continued at the Meadowlands yesterday, where the foul odour wafting throughout Giants Stadium had nothing to do with the nearby Jersey swamps.

To be blunt, the Giants offence stunk out the joint, with Manning absorbing most of the blame.

On a day in which there were some miserable quarterbacking performances around the NFL by a number of former first-round picks -- yes, that means you, David Carr and J.P. Losman -- Manning's was the worst, leaving his Giants on the short end of a 41-17 humiliation at the hands of the visiting Minnesota Vikings.

With big brother, Peyton of the Indianapolis Colts, watching from the stands, Eli had three passes intercepted and returned for touchdowns.

Darren Sharper, Dwight Smith and Chad Greenway each recorded defensive scores for the Vikings, helping lower Eli's career record in post-Thanksgiving games to 8-11.

Asked by reporters if Peyton's presence put more pressure on him, Eli replied that it didn't make any difference -- not when you are picked off four times on the day.

While the 7-4 Giants still remain in good position to snap up a wild-card berth, the doomsayers in Manhattan already are predicting yet another second-half collapse for the Big Blue. Manning's tendency to tail off down the stretch is well-documented in New York, and he'll be reminded of it by media and fans alike with every stinging defeat.

Manning, Carr and Losman, each alleged blue chippers when they were made first-round selections coming out of college, all had horrible outings in losing causes.

Perhaps no one's stock has fallen further than that of Carr, the first draft pick of the then-expansion Houston Texans.

Cast adrift in favour of Matt Schaub by the Texans, Carr's life in Carolina as a Panther has been a nightmare. He was benched in the fourth quarter of Carolina's 31-6 drubbing to the visiting New Orleans Saints after going just 10-for-22 for 95 yards and two interceptions.

The Saints kept their faint playoff hopes alive at 5-6 while the 4-7 Panthers already are fielding cries from their bitter fans for head coach John Fox's blood.

Carr actually was booed off the field at one point after tossing seven consecutive incompletions.

Eli Manning knows the feeling.

BELEAGUERED BILL

When Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron, speaking at his post-game press conference, said all options are open concerning his team's quarterbacking situation, he might as well have just handed over the clipboard to Losman, who missed open receivers all day in a 36-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Three consecutive mediocre performances against Miami, New England and Jacksonville, respectively, likely will mean the end of Losman's run as the team's starting quarterback, if not his career as a Bill. Public sentiment in western New York weighs heavily in favour of rookie Trent Edwards taking over the reigns, especially after Losman's latest debacle.

BROWNED OFF

If the season were to end today, the 7-4 Cleveland Browns would be in the playoffs as a wild-card team. Who would have predicted that? Jamal Lewis must think Lake Erie is a stained fountain of youth, rumbling for 134 yards and a touchdown in a 27-17 win over the Texans. The Browns are just a half a game behind the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers who, at 7-3, take on the Miami Dolphins tonight.\


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