posted on Aug, 20 2004 @ 08:45 AM
Eli Manning stepped to the line, pointing out the defense just like brother Peyton.
Before he could call his audible, Carolina defensive tackle Brentson Buckner pushed through the line and tossed the top draft pick to the ground.
Eli Manning barked out audibles at the line just like big brother Peyton in his first start Thursday.
Welcome to the NFL, rookie.
Jake Delhomme spoiled Manning's debut as starter for the New York Giants, throwing for one touchdown and running for another to lead the Carolina
Panthers to a 27-20 preseason victory Thursday night.
"We did some good things, it was encouraging" said Delhomme, who failed to lead any touchdown drives in last week's win over Washington. "Last week, I
was a little disappointed we didn't punch it in. So we did some good things, and it was something to build on."
Manning had an up-and-down day. His passes were sharp and mostly on the mark early, but as the game wore on, the Panthers and their vaunted defense
figured him out.
Although Buckner's second-quarter takedown was flagged for encroachment, Manning was sacked by Mark Fields three plays later to bring his night to an
end with Carolina leading 17-6. Manning finished 9-for-15 for 117 yards.
"I've still got a lot to learn," Manning said. "Feeling better in the pocket, being more comfortable in there. Standing there making my reads and
better throws. But every day and every week, I feel more comfortable."
He proved to be a near carbon copy of his brother early, barking out audibles at the line beginning with just his second play of the game.
But unlike Peyton, the NFL's co-MVP last season for the Indianapolis Colts, he wasn't always on the mark. On his second series, he tried to change the
play from the shotgun position but ran out of time and earned a delay of game penalty.
Manning was elusive, though, avoiding a safety by dumping the ball off just as Julius Peppers closed in on him in the end zone.
Peppers laughed about his near-miss later.
"It was a close call," Peppers said. "He threw it to no one. In a real game, I mean, this was preseason, so he got away with a close call."
In the end, the $45 million kid had impressed some of the Panthers.
"He's going to be good," defensive end Mike Rucker said. "They're trying to protect him with quick counts and hard counts and quick throws. That's
understandable. He'll be good when he gets older."
On this night, it was Delhomme who sparkled.
An unheralded quarterback until he led Carolina into the Super Bowl last season, Delhomme picked up right where he left off with a sharp and confident
He went 11-of-13 for 144 yards, including back-to-back pretty passes to Steve Smith. One was for 38 yards, and Smith added a leap over his defenders
on the next one, an 18-yard completion that moved the Panthers to the 7-yard line.
Delhomme threw a touchdown pass to Muhsin Muhammad on the next play for a 10-3 Carolina lead.
He later led the Panthers on a 12-play, 71-yard scoring drive and capped it with his own 1-yard TD run. The snap on the play was bad, and Delhomme had
to fall away from the end zone. He recovered about four yards out, then scrambled left and into the end zone untouched for a 17-6 lead.
Manning probably moved ahead of Kurt Warner in the battle for the starting job.
Warner was sacked on his first two plays of the game and four times overall. He was intercepted late in the fourth quarter by William Hampton, who
returned it 49-yards for a touchdown to seal the Carolina win.
Warner finished 9-of-11 for 71 yards.
"As we get closer to the season, we need to get some good playing time," Warner said. "Both of us need an opportunity to play and get a chance to get
comfortable out there. But those aren't our decisions."