EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Norm Van Brocklin. Warren Moon. Boomer Esiason. Dan Marino. Matthew Stafford. Tom Brady. Phil Simms. Drew Brees.
It's a who's who of some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, along with a newbie in Detroit's Stafford. It's also a list of the top eight in the exclusive 500-yard passing club.
Make it nine.
Eli Manning joined the group Sunday, passing for 510 yards and three touchdowns in a remarkable performance. Leading the Giants to a wild 41-34 win over Tampa Bay allowed the Super Bowl champions to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start.
How good was Manning?
Think about this. His big brother, Peyton, isn't a member of the 500-yard club and he has always played in more pass-orientated offenses. But Eli, 31, rose above all of that ... and more. After all, keep in mind he accomplished this on a day where he had to forget about three first-half interceptions.
But short-term memory is something Eli has always leaned on. He threw for 295 yards in the second half, and his 243 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter matched what Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman accomplished the entire game.
"How could you not give the guy the respect that he has so earned over the years, the last three or four years in particular," Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said Monday, three days before his Panthers (1-1) are to face Manning.
"I've seen what he did yesterday time and time again. You think you've got him and then he serves up a great comeback and puts his team on his shoulders in the fourth quarter. Then (other times) you see him come out right from the start and light it up. He's as good as there is out there in the game today. I firmly believe that, and we have to be prepared."
Third-year running back Andre Brown, who played most of the second half as Ahmad Bradshaw was sidelined with a neck injury, watched Manning rally the Giants often last season as a member of the practice squad.
On Sunday, he was an integral part of the comeback and even scored the game-winning touchdown on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds to play. It came two plays after Manning hit Hakeem Nicks on a 50-yard pass play.
"It's remarkable," Brown said. "Other than me playing and making sure I'm picking up the blitzes and everything that they're throwing at me, I'm just making sure I have my guy and making sure Eli has enough time, so he's making plays. He had a career day and it was just awesome to go out there and just be a part of it instead of standing and cheering them on."
When asked what it was like being in the huddle, Brown said it was what he expected: Manning called the plays like it was the start of the game. And that's just Eli, folks.