Eli eager to return the favor at Super Bowl

Eli Manning, right, cut short a hunting trip to to be in Denver to see his brother, Peyton, battle for another Super Bowl berth. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Eli Manning, right, cut short a hunting trip to to be in Denver to see his brother, Peyton, battle for another Super Bowl berth. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By Bob Glauber

Newsday (MCT)

DENVER – Two years ago, Eli Manning won his second Super Bowl championship at the home field of his older brother, Peyton, when the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

Now it’s Peyton who gets to go for his second Super Bowl at Eli’s home field at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Time for some karma?

Eli sure hopes so.

The Giants’ quarterback paid a surprise visit to his older brother in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. Like Peyton did for Eli two years ago when the Giants beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park, Eli made an unannounced trip to Denver for the Broncos’ game against the Patriots. Eli was part of an overtime win over the 49ers on his way to a Super Bowl win at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Giants’ passer saw his brother beat the Patriots 26-16 on Sunday.

“I’m just happy for him to be in New York in a Super Bowl,” Eli said in the Broncos’ locker room after the game. “I’m happy for him to get back to a Super Bowl and have a chance to win another championship.

“Obviously, I played one in Indianapolis, and he was great to me. Whatever I needed, he was going to try to help me out, and I’ll do the same for him.”

Eli was hunting in Mississippi for most of the week before Sunday’s game, but he made it to Denver to see Peyton put on a masterful effort, throwing for 400 yards and two touchdowns to reach the Super Bowl for the third time.

“He was on his game the whole day,” Eli said. “He threw the ball well. Offensively, they were as sharp as they could be. They really dominated the game offensively and hit a lot of big plays, a lot of long drives. It was really a well-executed game for them, a big win.”

Like Peyton was two years ago, Eli is now recovering from an injury at the same time his brother is preparing for a Super Bowl in his home stadium. Of course, Eli’s ankle injury is nothing compared with what Peyton faced – he had four surgical procedures on his neck and was still not fully certain he’d play again.

But Peyton did get strong enough to play, and he has been brilliant since his return. He set a single-season record for touchdown passes and passing yards in the 2013 regular season.

“I think with Peyton, not much amazes me any more,” Eli said. “Anything he puts his mind to, he can usually accomplish it.”

Eli admits he had some concerns whether Peyton would be able to recover.

“I had some doubts, I had some worries, for sure,” he said. “But he stayed strong and fought through it and was determined to get back to playing at the level he wanted to and probably came back better than ever.”

Archie Manning, Peyton’s father and a former Saints quarterback, said he also had some doubts.

“I just didn’t know,” Archie said in the Broncos’ locker room. “When you’re his age and what he went through and playing the quarterback position in this league, you just don’t know. We tried to just stay positive along with him. He handled it so well. He really had a good frame of mind about working and trying it, but if it didn’t work, he was at peace, so that was comforting.”