Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Two-time MVP Kurt Warner beat out NFL No. 1 draft pick Eli Manning to be the New York Giants' starting quarterback.

Coach Tom Coughlin announced his decision Sunday, citing Warner's experience and recent play for keeping the $45 million rookie on the bench for the Sept. 12 opener against Philadelphia Eagles.


Two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner, signed in June, has looked more comfortable running the Giants' offense in preseason.

"I think this is the best choice," Coughlin said. "It's the choice which is in the best interest of the New York Giants."

The competition was close since training camp opened in late July. Warner, who was signed in June after being released by the St. Louis Rams, and Manning, the brother of co-MVP Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, were on equal terms until Thursday's 17-7 loss to the Jets.

Warner was 9-of-11 for 104 yards in the game, leading the Giants to their only touchdown. Manning was 4-of-14 for 20 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble that was returned for a Jets touchdown.

After watching videotapes and mulling his choices, Coughlin informed Warner and Manning of his decision in separate meetings Sunday.

"I wasn't upset by it," said Manning, who hasn't been a backup since his redshirt freshman year at Mississippi in 2000, when Romaro Miller started. "I figured it might come. It doesn't change anything. I still have a lot to learn."

Coughlin has not announced who will start the preseason finale against Baltimore on Thursday at Giants Stadium.

Warner started the season opener for the Rams last year. He lost that job to Marc Bulger after a concussion and fumbling six times in a loss to the Giants.

"At times it was a little nerve-racking, wondering whether this or that played into it," Warner said, referring to the decision Sunday. "It was a distinct challenge for me, a new challenge for me and I think it helped to push and force me to learn this stuff at a little faster pace."

Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan said he felt Warner's experience might have been the deciding factor.

"Eli is still a young quarterback, still a rookie, and still has a lot to learn," Strahan said. "When we went into it, everybody assumed that Kurt was going to start with Eli getting the opportunity later on."

Until Friday, Manning looked ready to start ahead of Warner.

"That is the first time he has experienced one of those nights, and he has to put the blinders on and he has to get back to work and try to understand what happened," Coughlin said after Friday night's loss to the Jets.