Eli Manning earns first playoff win

By PA SportsTicker

Peyton Manning is no longer the only quarterback in the family with a playoff victory.

Peyton’s Little brother, Eli, earned his first postseason win Sunday as the New York Giants defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-14, in an NFC wild card contest.

Eli Manning actually achieved the milestone quicker than his brother, who led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl title last season.

The younger Manning, who turned 27 on Thursday, recorded his first playoff win in his third postseason start and fourth year as the Giants’ starter. It took Peyton Manning six seasons and four attempts to get his first postseason triumph.

New York’s win sets up a third meeting this season with the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round next week.

The San Diego Chargers host the Tennessee Titans later Sunday in the final wild card contest. The result of that game will determine next week’s AFC matchups.

Jacksonville will be heading to either New England or Indianapolis after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-29, on Saturday.

The other NFC divisional contest is also set as the Green Bay Packers host the Seattle Seahawks and former coach Mike Holmgren next Sunday. The Seahawks advanced on Saturday with a 35-14 win over the Washington Redskins, who lost for the first time since the funeral of the late Sean Taylor.

Dallas, which tied a franchise record with 13 wins to secure the NFC’s top seed, swept the season series against the Giants. The Cowboys posted a season-opening 45-35 win in Dallas, then recorded a 31-20 victory in Week 11 at the Giants Stadium.

The Giants joined the Colts, Patriots and Seahawks as the only teams making their third straight playoff appearances. In addition, Tom Coughlin joined Bill Parcells and Allie Sherman as the only Giants’ coaches to guide the team to the postseason in three straight seasons.

Still, New York had not won a playoff game since routing the Minnesota Vikings, 41-0, in the 2001 NFC championship game and needed a postseason victory to shed its tag as under-achievers.

The Giants finally scaled that hurdle Sunday, winning their first playoff game in three attempts under Coughlin, whose decision to go all out last week against the Patriots now looks wise.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden rested his starters and the Buccaneers dropped their final two regular-season games after winning the NFC South title.

Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes in last week’s 38-35 loss to the Patriots, who completed the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history, and the Giants carried that momentum into Sunday’s contest.

New York spotted Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead, but roared back to extend its franchise-record road winning streak to eight games. The Giants have trailed in their last five wins.

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Updated Sunday, Jan 6, 2008