Despite a face that appears frozen in puberty, Eli Manning has grown into what six seasons in the NFL make him: a veteran quarterback.

It seems like only yesterday when Manning was sacked for the first time in his career - by an Eagles defensive end, no less. The first career sack of first-round bust Jerome McDougle would be the first of many the Giants quarterback would suffer at the hands of the Eagles.

In 13 career games against the Eagles, including two playoff meetings, Manning has been sacked 28 times.

However, during the Eagles' current three-game winning streak against the Giants, Manning was sacked only twice. Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said the Giants quarterback is better at reading the Eagles' blitz packages.

"A lot has changed over the years," Mikell said of the 28-year-old Manning. "He's able to see our blitzes and he's learned a lot of different things over the years from our schemes. When we blitz, we haven't really gotten a lot of pressure on him."

Still, when the Eagles travel to Giants Stadium tonight in a game that could move Philadelphia one step closer to the playoffs, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will surely blitz. That's what he does, and that's what his predecessor, Jim Johnson, did.

So while Manning may be better at avoiding sacks, he hasn't completely dodged the Eagles' pressure.

In his last three games against Philadelphia, Manning has completed only 51 percent of his passes with just two touchdowns and four interceptions.

"In my opinion, any quarterback in the NFL doesn't like pressure," Mikell said. "You want to be out there, you want to have the perfect pocket, perfect time and perfect aisles to throw in. So any time you can affect any of those three or four things, you can affect the quarterback. If that's either getting pressure or messing up the timing, there are all different ways we try to affect that."

The last time the teams met, the Eagles blitzed Manning only 16 percent of the time, according to Eagles linebacker Chris Gocong. The Eagles said that the Giants' pass protection, in part, dictated the amount of blitzing.

"You're always just going to do what they give you," McDermott said. "If they're going to keep that tight end in and only run three-man routes, then I'm not going to throw my secondary into a bind and blitz. . . . I don't want to force a square peg into a round hole."

That approach proved effective in the Eagles' 40-17 home win over the Giants on Nov. 1.

Manning, a career 56 percent passer, was forced into errant throws and became unhinged. By halftime, he had completed just 8 of 16 attempts and had tossed two interceptions that led to Eagles touchdowns. With Philadelphia ahead by 23 points at the break and the Giants forced to play catch-up, the defense dropped back into deep zone coverage.

"I think they were expecting us to blitz," Gocong said. "The biggest thing for us versus them is stopping the run and then, second of all, stopping [Manning]."

The Giants historically have been a running team. But running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw have struggled during a 2-5 stretch after New York opened with five straight victories. In the last seven games, they have been held to 3.9 yards a carry. That has placed the onus squarely on the statue-like Manning, who has been hobbled by plantar fasciitis since Week 5.

He has been a different quarterback since the foot ailment surfaced. Before the injury became known, he had a 104.1 passer rating and was sacked an average of only 0.5 times a game. Since then, his rating has plummeted to 81.9, and he's been dropped two times a game.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he didn't think the two circumstances were related.

"I think [defenses] pressure according to the way they play," Coughlin said. "Eli is a young quarterback, but he's been playing the position in this league for a while. He does have good command of the tools that are available versus pressure. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But I don't think it has a lot to do with the circumstances surrounding his foot."

The Eagles said that Manning's injury hasn't altered their approach, nor will it tonight.

"If you got a really mobile quarterback from the jump, then it might change your game plan a bit," defensive end Darren Howard said. "If you're playing Michael Vick and he has a foot injury, then it's a totally different situation. [Manning] is not a guy that likes to, even when he's healthy, get outside the pocket and run around."

But he's gotten better at scrambling. There was a time when Manning was like a deer caught in the headlights. And the Eagles feasted on that like they do on almost all young quarterbacks.

During one four-game stretch, the Eagles sacked the young Manning 20 times. They might not get to him as much these days, but the Eagles will never stop trying.

"We blitz," linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "That's what we do."

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.