Even 30 minutes after the game, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning seemed unsure of what had just transpired Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Nattily dressed in a blue suit and tie, the former Isadore Newman School and Ole Miss product stood at a podium in a room adjacent to the Giants locker room and tried to make sense of an inexplicable 52-49 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
But the words came up short.
“It was a wild one,’’ Manning said. “I don’t know if I’ve played in one quite like that. Back and forth ... a lot of touchdowns; a lot of offense; a wild one.
“I know their offense is always high powered, especially at home. I knew it might be a day where we have to score points, and I didn’t know how many it would take. I just wish we could have come out on top.’’
For the record, Brees (seven) and Manning (six) accounted for an NFL-record 13 passing touchdowns, with a 14th TD coming on a fumble return by cornerback Truman McBride that gave the Giants a short-lived 49-42 lead with 7:11 remaining.
In the end, kicker Kai Forbath delivered the tell-tale blow, a well struck 50-yard field goal as time expired to get the Saints (4-4) to .500 for the first time since Week 9 of the 2014 season.
Brees played brilliantly, setting franchise records for completions (40) and passing yards (511) while posting a gaudy 140.5 passer rating. Manning also performed well, completing 30 of 41 passes for 350 yards and a 138.2 rating.
At times, the game had the look of seven-on-seven passing drills because of the absence of consistent defensive pressure on the quarterbacks.
“Find the words,’’ Giants coach Tom Coughlin said when asked to describe his team’s inability to contain Brees and the Saints’ passing game. “(It was) frustrating. You want to explode, but that is not going to help, so you are trying to figure out how you can help. We couldn’t stop them. We didn’t stop them.’’
Three of Manning’s six TD passes went to former Newman/LSU star Odell Beckham Jr., who caught eight passes for 130 yards, including scoring tosses of 2, 1 and 50 yards. Former LSU receiver Rueben Randle also contributed mightily for the Giants with five catches for 55 yards.
“That’s what he do,’’ Randle said of Beckham. “He makes plays for us.’’
For Beckham and Randle, it marked their second time in as many games played at the Superdome that they exited on the losing end. On Jan. 9, 2012, they combined for eight catches and 51 yards as Alabama blanked LSU 21-0 to capture the Allstate BCS National Championship.
“It was great to come back home and play in the dome,’’ Beckham said. “It was only the second time I’ve had the opportunity to play, and both losses were equally as bad. It’s just not fun losing, and this one here we definitely wanted to win.’’
On Forbath’s winning kick, Coughlin considered using Beckham on the Giants’ field-goal block team but decided against it.
“The coaches let me get on the field, but then they they pulled me back off,’’ Beckham said. “We didn’t want to take a risk of getting a penalty or whatever the case may be. They ended up making the field goal. It was a great job by them to finish the game.’’
Said Manning: “It’s a tough one to bite down on now.’’