EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Opposing defenses are not only having a tough time stopping Eli Manning this season, they are barely touching the New York Giants quarterback.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP has been sacked a league-low five times through the first six games of the season, and he’s been hit only 11 times -- total.
Even more impressive heading into Sunday’s game against Washington (3-3) is this: The offensive line has not allowed Manning to be sacked in the last three games.
Manning can’t explain the recent run, but he is not complaining.
"They’re playing great," Manning said. "We’re running the ball well, the pass protection has been good, and the receivers have been getting open.
"It’s been pretty smooth, and hopefully, we keep it that way."
One of the rarest sights in the past three weeks came in the first quarter of New York’s 26-3 win over San Francisco Sunday. Manning dropped back to pass and was drilled by linebacker Ahmad Brooks after letting the ball go. It would be the 49ers’ only hit on him.
Backup quarterback David Carr, who got sacked an NFL-record 76 times in his rookie season with the expansion Houston Texans in 2002, said Manning helps his line keep him clean as much as any quarterback in the league. He studies opposing defenses, knows where the ball needs to go and makes them pay with big plays when they try to put too much pressure
"The biggest thing that stands out about him, and it’s hard to notice, [is] after he throws the ball," Carr said. "If he gets hit, he looks at the number: ‘Who hit me?’ It catalogues and registers in his brain. ‘Where was that protection? Where were we weak a little bit? Maybe it’s not that guys’ fault. Where was that breakdown and how can I get rid of the ball faster?’ "
The line -- ever shuffling -- deserves credit, as well. The interior hasn’t changed with Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee at the guards and David Baas at center. But the tackles have changed since the Super Bowl. David Diehl, who started the season at left guard, finished at left tackle after Will Beatty was injured. Kareem McKenzie played the right side.