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Eli Manning playing like an old QB who’s past his prime

Saquon Barkley tried to save Eli Manning from himself, tried to single-handedly save the Giants season.

On a night when Barkley showed you all the electrifying moves and again proved general manager Dave Gettleman right for drafting him with the second-overall pick, Manning simultaneously proved Gettleman wrong for passing on Sam Darnold, or Josh Allen, or Josh Rosen.

Barkley is a shining beacon of light and hope for the future. But ownership and management bet on Manning for the present and will have lost the bet until they find their next franchise quarterback.

Because this was a night that screamed out for the Giants to find The Next Eli Manning sooner rather than later.

But too late for this sorry season.

Stick a fork in the 1-5 Giants, 34-13 losers to the Eagles.

Because Manning, helpless again under heavy duress, showed up as a shot fighter, Ali at the end without the rope-a-dope, looking as if he would rather have been chopping it up with Lil Wayne than being suffocated and dominated by the Eagles defense and savaged by boobirds who haven’t enjoyed a playoff victory since Super Bowl XLVI. It was sad to witness.

Barkley’s legs were as breathtaking as Manning’s arm was deflating. A veritable New York Giants Deflategate.

Beckham apparently was so deflated he walked off the field into the tunnel that leads to the locker room with two seconds left in the half and one meaningless pass for Manning to throw.

This is one devalued $95 Million Man.

It was already Eagles 24, Giants 6 when Manning completed a 39-yard bomb to Cody Latimer with the half winding down. It was the equivalent of a squirrel finding an acorn.

Because to that point, the Giants offense was an explosive 46-yard run around right end by Barkley, and a 55-yard Barkley catch-and-run where he cut sharply left, shed a pair of tackles, evaded a couple of others as he veered back to his right, accompanied the entire way by the kind of MetLife roar that was once reserved for Manning. Barkley added a 50-yard TD dash in the third quarter.

Forget about the deep shots to Beckham. Manning tried two, one under duress into double coverage. A wing and a prayer.

Manning’s second throw of the night was a deflected interception over the middle for tight end Scott Simonson that set Carson Wentz up to make it 7-0. It was second-and-2 and Manning never looked to the right flat, where Barkley was open with room to operate.

Manning was throwing underneath for 12 yards to Beckham … on third-and-15 from his own 4 following a Michael Bennett strip-sack against Nate Solder.

An illegal block in the back on Sterling Shepard set up a second-and-19, and the boobirds first let Manning hear it when he threw short to Latimer for 4 yards, followed by a 7-yard pass to Barkley on third-and-16. Boooooo again.

Proud Giants running backs of yesteryear gush about Barkley.

Brandon Jacobs: “Saquon could break every record that’s held by any Giant running back that there is. But the five [offensive linemen] in front of him gotta give him opportunity to be great.”

Tiki Barber: “I think he can be phenomenal, ’cause he’s got the size and the athleticism to be a change-of-field position, change-of-momentum type player. But he’s also really smart and inquisitive, and that’s half the battle for running backs in the National Football League these days.”

Ahmad Bradshaw: “I think he reminds me of myself with the ball in his hand. I think he’s shifty, I think he can catch the ball great. He’s elusive at the point of attack. He has a burst, he has the explosion. He’s young and I think he has a lot of potential, and he has so much time to learn.”

Bradshaw was a compact 210-pound bulldog. Barkley is 230 pounds, a big man with the moves of a small man.

“He can run through tackles if he needs to, but he also can run around you, so he’s shifty,” Barber said. “Sometimes that gets him in trouble, but he’s a great receiver, you can line him up as a wideout, he can run routes down the field, and you know he’s going to make the catch.”

You used to know Manning was going to make the throw. It is why he one day will be a gold jacket guy long before Barkley gets there. But on this night, Giants fans trudged to the parking lot depressed that their beloved quarterback looked more like an old jacket guy.

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