Ryan Switzer scored on an 83-yard punt return and Dez Bryant added a franchise-record 72nd career touchdown reception in the Dallas Cowboys’ 38-14 win over Washington Thursday night at AT&T Stadium. Mark Hoffer mhoffer@star-telegram.com
Ryan Switzer scored on an 83-yard punt return and Dez Bryant added a franchise-record 72nd career touchdown reception in the Dallas Cowboys’ 38-14 win over Washington Thursday night at AT&T Stadium. Mark Hoffer mhoffer@star-telegram.com

Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones reflects on Eli Manning, recalls first game at AT&T Stadium

December 02, 2017 11:01 AM

ARLINGTON

The Eli Manning era appears to have come to an end with the New York Giants.

Manning has been benched by Giants coach Ben McAdoo and won’t start for the Giants in Sunday’s game at the Oakland Raiders. That will end his streak of consecutive starts at 210 games.

The Dallas Cowboys visit the Giants on Dec. 10. It will be the Giants’ first home game without Manning starting since Nov. 21, 2004.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones weighed in on the decision after Thursday’s 38-14 victory over the Washington Redskins.

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“Well, I have all the respect in the world for Eli,” Jones said. “I think they’re the first family of football, the Mannings. Certainly I know Peyton as well as Eli, but I can speak to Eli the best because he’s played us the most.”

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Mark Hoffer mhoffer@star-telegram.com

Jones recalled the story of the first NFL regular-season game at Cowboys Stadium, now named AT&T Stadium. Manning and the Giants escaped with a 33-31 victory on Sept. 20, 2009.

Manning threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns that day, and commemorated the victory by autographing a wall inside the visiting locker room.

“We were blessed with Eli’s signature of the locker,” Jones said, smiling. “And I’m proud of it. I’m proud of it. I wouldn’t take anything for it.”

Jones talked about his relationship with Eli’s father, Archie, and a “Sweet Nothings” file he’s kept with notes and letters of encouragement from people he’s met throughout his life. His collection includes notes ranging from George Steinbrenner to Manning.

“I don’t have any that mean more to me than from the Mannings and of course his dad,” Jones said. “I’ve always been interested in him when he first came out, followed Eli very much because of the fact he became a Giant. I feel great for all of us that he’s been the player that he’s been and won like he’s won in the NFL.”

Manning’s 210 consecutive games will go down as the second-longest streak of starts by a quarterback in NFL history behind Brett Favre’s 297.

The Giants gave Manning the opportunity to keep the streak in tact by playing in the first half of the remaining games, but Manning felt that would tarnish the streak.

So Manning and the Giants are moving on. Assuming it’s the end of his Giants tenure, Manning will walk away with a career 13-13 record in 26 starts against the Cowboys.

He’s thrown 48 of his 334 touchdowns against the Cowboys, tied with the Eagles for his most against a single opponent.

It’s the end of an era in the NFC East, but Manning’s signature will live on inside AT&T Stadium.

“I told them they better not do anything to that signature, I like it there,” Jones said. “He was proud of it and you’ve got to know Archie and you’ve got to know those guys to know that it was a gesture of love.”

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison