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Joe Flacco, Eli Manning Having Similar Seasons


Eli Manning has two Super Bowl rings.

But when looking at this season, he and Joe Flacco have had a fairly similar year* *full of peaks and valleys. And the statistics suggest Flacco has been a little better.

Flacco has a higher quarterback rating than Manning, 86.2 to 84.0. Flacco has three more lost fumbles, but five fewer interceptions. They've attempted the same number of passes (487), and Manning has completed just six more. Manning has passed for 116 more yards than Flacco.

Both quarterbacks are also coming off rough Week 15 performances.

Last Sunday against Denver, Flacco completed 20 of 40 passes, threw a costly interception for a touchdown and lost a fumble. Facing Atlanta, Manning completed 13 of 25 passes for 161 yards and two interceptions.

Both quarterbacks said the ups and downs are just part of being an NFL quarterback.

"It's been an NFL season," Flacco said. "We've played a lot good games. We've won some early, and we've played some good games and lost some late. That's the way it goes sometimes. There's not really much you can do about the past."

"It's just football," Manning said. "Not every game goes as planned. You just have to play to the opportunity that you have and the situations that you're in and try to make the best decision, the best play you can make on every play. That's what I am working on."

Manning used to get more criticism before he won his second ring last season.

During his first four years as a full-time starter, he averaged just 3,395 passing yards per year (fewer than Flacco). His quarterback rating was consistently lower than Flacco's because he threw far more interceptions.

Before last year, Manning (somewhat like Flacco) said he considers himself to be in the same class as elite quarterbacks such as Tom Brady. That bold statement raised the eyebrows of some fans and media.

After three straight games in which he's thrown an interception and lost a fumble, Flacco's under the microscope like Manning was last season. Manning said he hasn't heard the criticism of Flacco, but he wouldn't be surprised because he said that's just what happens to quarterbacks when they lose a few games.

"Joe's been a good player," Manning said. "I think he's kind of going through the ranks. With a young guy, [he's] learning and making plays. And he's turned into a guy who seems like a good leader and has put his team in great opportunities."

As Flacco and Manning get ready to square off Sunday, they both are looking to have better games against the opposing defense.

As a rookie against the Giants in 2008, Flacco threw for just 164 yards despite 33 attempts and tossed two interceptions.

In that same game, Manning completed just 13 passes for 153 yards and threw a touchdown and interception. As a rookie in 2004, and in his only trip to M&T Bank Stadium, Manning completed four of 18 passes for 27 yards and two interceptions, giving him a career-worst quarterback rating of 0.0.

Now in his ninth season, Manning said those games don't weigh on his mind.

"One of them was four years ago, and then the other was eight years ago," he said. "There were different players on our team, a different time in my career. So, you just worry about trying to go out there and playing your best and trying to get a win."

Despite Manning's dipped numbers this season, the Ravens are still acutely aware that he can have a big day, especially with a strong cast of receivers headlined by Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.

"With Eli [Manning], I think you understand that if he can get rolling, he can score a lot of points," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said.

"I still look at him as an elite guy," cornerback Cary Williams added. "He's a guy that won two Super Bowls. He's an elite quarterback who knows how to win games, especially late in the season."

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