Manning, in his second start in a row filling in for the injured rookie Daniel Jones, threw for 283 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in New York's 36-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins. It was just Big Blue's third win of the season, but Eli's first as the Giants starter. It was also perhaps his last and a special one at that.
With just two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Giants' win well in hand, New York called a timeout with its offense on the field and pulled Manning. A predictably New York farewell ensued. The Giants fans remaining in MetLife and everyone from the sidelines to the sky boxes gave Manning a prolonged standing ovation, one that lasted for the remainder of the game and beyond.
Camera showed Manning welling up a bit on the sideline, and following the final whistle, followed him into the tunnel where he was embraced by his wife and children.
Manning tamped down his emotions following the game, telling CBS it was "just good to get a win." But it was hard for the QB to ignore the significance of the moment.
"I don't know what the future is. I don't know what lies next week, let alone down the road," Manning told reporters. "The support and the fans and their ovation and they were chanting my name from the first snap to the end, I appreciate that and I appreciate them always and all my teammates coming up to me. So it's a special day, special win and one I'll remember."
"He's a class act all the way, on and off the field. It's very emotional," Giants owner John Mara said after the game, per Newsday. "It was just nice to see him smile in the locker room."
His career spanning 16 seasons in New York, Manning has been present for many highs (two Super Bowl titles) and many lows (the last three seasons). It's fitting that his career regular-season record (117-117, back up to .500 after last week's loss) reflects that balance.
Sunday's ceremony aside, Manning might have a chance to get two games over or under .500 before season's end. Jones is still dealing with an ankle injury, and New York could choose to ride out its final two games with the veteran under center, if the rookie is at risk of further injury. One of those games comes back at MetLife Stadium, a Week 17 showdown with the NFC East-contending Philadelphia Eagles.
Perhaps Eli's final chapter in East Rutherford has yet to be written, though it'd be hard to fix up a more fitting farewell.