Eli: Giants underachieved in 2012

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
3:33
PM ET
Eli Manning Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsEli Manning called the 2012 season a wasted opportunity.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A day after the Giants' 2012 season ended, quarterback Eli Manning lamented the team's failure to qualify for the playoffs, a year after winning the Super Bowl.

"We felt we have talent, we have playmakers, we have guys who get it, who understand what it takes to win and to play a high level," Manning said. "To waste that opportunity is disappointing."

Manning threw a career-high five touchdown passes in the regular-season finale, a 42-7 thumping of the Eagles. But it was a down season for the two-time Super Bowl MVP. He failed to throw for 4,000 yards for the first time since 2008. And his completion percentage, 59.9, was his lowest since 2007.

When asked about his performance in 2012, Manning said, "I don’t think it was as good as it needed to be."

Manning will turn 32 on Jan. 3, and admitted that the failed seasons get more frustrating as the years pass by. "Yeah, definitely," Manning said. "Just because you know as you get older, your seasons are becoming more limited."

This is the fourth time in Manning's nine NFL seasons that the Giants have missed the playoffs.

Coach Tom Coughlin, at age 66, knows his opportunities to win more championships are dwindling, too.

"The losing part is hard. It’s very hard. It gets harder and harder I think, the older that you get," Coughlin said. "The competition and the winning is what fires you, what gives you the true, true desire to seek more. But the losing part is very difficult to get over."

Manning pointed to the Giants' 17-16 loss at Washington on Dec. 3 as the one that bothers him the most. "I thought offensively we played pretty well, moved the ball, just settled for field goals," Manning said. "Had two opportunities late in the game to go get a score and get points and take the lead, and we weren’t able to do it."

Coughlin was more upset about the Giants' blowout losses to the Falcons and Ravens in Weeks 15 and 16. "The two games that’ll probably drive me insane, which would be Atlanta (and) Baltimore," Coughlin said. "Not so much the question about, we lost the game, the question about, why didn’t we play better?"

But nothing can be done about those losses now.

Instead of preparing for a playoff game, Coughlin has already begun the evaluation process for 2013. Manning, who said he emerged from the season with "no major problems" health-wise, will root on his big brother Peyton and the Broncos.

"We didn’t handle our business this year," said Manning. "We didn’t when we needed to."
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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