EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The return of two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning to the New York Giants’ starting lineup a week after being benched didn’t have a storybook ending.

It was like many of the Giants’ games this season. They were competitive for most of the day and found a way to lose.

Manning even threw a couple of late interceptions to contribute to New York’s 11th loss in 13 games in this dreadful season.

It didn’t matter though. Manning’s return under interim coach Steve Spagnuolo in a 30-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday had some heart-warming moments.

Most in the announced crowd of 78,125 at MetLife Stadium stood and gave him a standing ovation as the Giants took the field midway through the first quarter trailing 3-0. They applauded even louder at the end of the 17-play drive that ended with a game-tying field goal early in the second quarter.

And the best was chants of “E-Lie Mann-ing” after the 36-year-old threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rhett Ellison to give New York a short-lived 10-3 lead late in the second quarter.

The 14-year veteran who has been the face of the franchise since joining the team in 2004 heard it clearly.

“I thought we had a good crowd today and I appreciate all the support these past weeks, and sorry we couldn’t get them a better game today,” said Manning, who finished 31 of 46 for 228 yards and two interceptions.

Meanwhile, Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes for Dallas, including a go-ahead 20-yard score to Jason Witten with 7:38 left to break a 10-all tie.