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Eli Manning isn't listening to the noise

The New York Giants quarterback has been publicly criticized for his soft-spoken approach to leadership, but it's exactly what his team needs.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Eli Manning looked inward. He always peers there. The Giants were 0-2 and had blown consecutive fourth-quarter leads. His poor, late-game choices had placed him in the middle of a mess.

His teammates encouraged him. His father, Archie, sent texts of support.

And Giants general manager Jerry Reese offered something that stuck.

"I told Eli that he was going to win bigger games for us moving forward than either of those two losses," Reese said. "Around here, we believe in Eli."

Manning looked more assured at quarterback last Thursday night when the Giants defeated Washington. He passed for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns. The Giants travel to Buffalo on Sunday to confront Rex Ryan's Bills defense, one capable of creating extreme pressure and havoc.

This after Manning, 34, in his 12th Giants season, just stepped out of one more turbulent twister.

"He had a lot going on with his contract in the offseason, a lot going on with the start of this season and a lot of it in this environment where we all live is a tornado, complete madness," Giants offensive tackle Will Beatty said. "But Eli does not get into a rush. He is methodical. He is our calm center. He is the foundation here. We have a lot of young guys, new guys. They look at Eli. They look to Eli."

Running back Andre Williams, in his second Giants season, added: "We weren't feeling very good about this season's start and Eli had to rise up and be the captain and the leader that he is. He let us know, in his own way, the he is still in control. He let us know what it took to play at a certain winning level. He also let us know that he is still hungry. All of that really means something to this team."

Manning's traits that have often been described as weakness -- his lack of demonstrative leadership, his overall low-key approach, his inward, cloaked, careful style -- are actually strengths in the midst of storms.

Many NFL quarterbacks are more vocal, more flamboyant. But Manning has remained true to his style. His teammates have learned to meet him there.

It has created an unusual dynamic of leadership. An aura around the Giants where one of their most soft-spoken, calm, introspective players manages a ringing, lasting effect.

When Manning thinks about the criticism he has received throughout his career for being so measured in his leadership, he smiles.

He knows what some call weakness is what he calls strength.

"It's never been with me about the outside world's thinking and what is going on with that, whether it is good or bad," Manning said. "I've always believed you've just got to keep your same style and be yourself in this league. Not change your approach. Work hard to prepare. I go about my business. I'm not going to be calling guys out left and right. You just keep building a winning way and a winning team. You move on."

He is a true sum of his experience, an academic quarterback, a two-time Super Bowl most valuable player and champion who keeps finding a way to show up for the Giants: He has made 170 consecutive starts.

Two seasons ago he threw 27 interceptions. Last season he reduced that number to 14 while throwing the most passes passing attempts (601) and for the second-most passing yards (4,410) of his career.

His teammates say he is showing in practices and in game huddles a stronger command of offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's offense. This is the second season for Manning/McAdoo. Manning this season in 108 passing attempts has not thrown an interception.

Giants receiver Rueben Randle said it is not all bouquets when dealing with Manning.

"Eli is really not into our offense looking bad out there; he will let you know that," Randle said. "We (Giants receivers) have a lot of communication with him. He will tell you directly to your face what he thinks is being done incorrectly or what he needs you to do more of. He makes it a clear relationship in terms of expectations but he also makes it a comfortable relationship.

"In the locker room, he moves about this team easily. Outside of the locker room, I don't' think anyone sees Eli; he is a family man and a busy man. He is a bit of a goof-ball at times with his jokes. But, hey, at least he tries."

Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara sees plenty of himself in Manning.

"I swear, the year when Eli threw 20-something picks and the year he won the Super Bowls, there was very little different in the way he carried himself," Amukamara said. "I compare him to myself. They tried to say for a long time that I didn't have any swag, that I needed to speak up more. I don't think the louder you are necessarily means you are being heard. I don't think Eli believes that. He is a person with a lot of football and life experience. It comes out in its own way. And we get it. He helped pull us out of a really bad place last week. "

First, Manning looked inward. He always peers there.

He knows that Ryan will toss complex alignments at him on Sunday. He knows this defense is tops in the league against the run. He knows that the New England Patriots beat the Bills recently by throwing a barrage of quick, short passes that scattered them.

"But we'll have to see what's best for us," Manning said.

Just like he masters that task for himself.