Panthers look to finish, just like Giants' Manning

Associated Press Published: September 19, 2012
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers could learn a thing or two from Eli Manning when it comes to finishing games.

After losing six games last season in which they were either tied or leading in the fourth quarter, the Panthers are still learning how to put away an opponent.

It's a skill Manning has pretty much mastered.

Manning, whom the Panthers will face Thursday night when they host the New York Giants, has become one of the league's most proficient "finishers," on par with former greats Dan Marino and John Elway.

Manning has engineered 26 fourth-quarter comeback wins for the Giants, five of those in the postseason. He had an NFL-record seven fourth-quarter comebacks last season, including one on the biggest stage of all when he led the Giants to a come-from-behind victory against New England in the Super Bowl.

"I mean, the guy is Captain Comeback," said Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

And he's at it again.

Manning's latest mini-miracle came Sunday when he shrugged off three second-quarter interceptions and led the Giants back from a 14-point deficit with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat the pesky Buccaneers 41-34, adding to his growing legacy by throwing for 510 yards.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Manning has the perfect mentality to handle pressure situations.

"He might make a mistake and I might be ranting and raving about it, but it doesn't get him down," Coughlin said. "He's disappointed, but he knows enough and he has enough mental toughness that he moves on to the very next play and doesn't let it affect the next series. And that's a great attribute for a quarterback."

Coughlin likens Manning's mentality to Johnny Unitas, another quarterback who was able to put mistakes behind him and move forward.

Unitas once threw five interceptions in a game against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 11, 1970, but still managed to find a way to lead the Colts to a 21-20 victory.

"You have to have that ability where you can put it behind you because you can't afford to not think about what's going on in the current series or the next play or whatever," Coughlin said. "He has that ability. ... And the guys around him trust him and believe in him, and that's huge."

Last year's Super Bowl MVP said it's all about confidence and playing fearless.

"You can't get gun-shy or be scared to throw an interception," Manning said. "You know you have to make better decisions, but you still have to be confident in your own ability."

The Panthers (1-1) could use a little bit of Manning's killer instinct in the fourth quarter.

In the season opener, the Panthers couldn't put together a drive in the fourth quarter and lost 16-10 to Tampa Bay.

Even in last week's 35-27 win over New Orleans, the Panthers struggled to put away the Saints. They went three-and-out on their last two offensive possessions, giving Drew Brees a chance to tie the game with less than two minutes remaining.

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