The San Diego Chargers selected Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning with the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Manning, however, refused to play in San Diego, and the New York Giants, who had selected North Carolina State quarterback Phillip Rivers with their first pick of the draft (the #4 overall pick) were able to trade Rivers (along with other compensation) to the Chargers, in return for the highly-touted Manning. The Giants also selected former Boston College offensive guard Chris Snee, Auburn linebacker Reggie Torbor, and strong safety Gibril Wilson. All four of these picks would start at least once during the season, and remain with the Giants for at least four seasons.
Although the Giants had traded for Eli Manning, the season began with veteran quarterback and former league MVP Kurt Warner as the starter. After a season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Warner and the Giants enjoyed surprising success, starting a four-game winning streak that included road victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. Following a Halloween rout of the Minnesota Vikings, 34–14, the Giants were 5–2, trailing the then-undefeated Philadelphia Eagles by just two games.
The high-water mark of the Giants season came on November 7, when the Giants led the Chicago Bears 14–0 at the end of the first quarter. Over the rest of the game, though, the Giants turned the ball over five times, allowed the Bears to score 28 unanswered points (20 in the second quarter) and lost by a score of 28–21. After another loss, this time on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, Giants coach Tom Coughlin decided to replace Warner with Manning. The decision did not show immediate success, as the Giants turned the ball over ten times in the next four games, scoring a total of 37 points.
Close losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals followed, dropping the Giants to 5–10. The season did end with a glimmer of hope, however, as the Giants rallied from a 16–7 fourth quarter deficit to end the season with a 28–24 victory over the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys. Manning threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes, and Tiki Barber scored the game winner.