They never wavered, never whispered behind his back when he couldn’t stop throwing interceptions and could not lift them all from their mushrooming malaise, never looked at Eli Manning as anything but their once and forever franchise quarterback.

And now, as 0-6 has become 2-6, as the Giants crawl back, inch by inch, game by game, as they begin on Sunday against the Raiders what some of them are calling an eight-game season and others the first of eight one-game seasons, they believe Eli has figured things out. They believe the division title and playoffs are no pipe dream, because the best is yet to come. For him. And for them.

“We dug ourselves a hole, and the only way to get out of it is to approach every game like this is our Super Bowl,” Mathias Kiwanuka told The Post. “If we want to get to the big one, we’ve got to win every game on our schedule.”

Such is their respect and admiration for Manning, that even when he was anything but elite, the men who block for him, the men who try to get the ball back to him, felt guilty they were leaving him naked.

“This is a guy who’s led us to multiple Super Bowl championships, and if he’s going through something, then we gotta put it on our shoulders,” Kiwanuka said, “because there have been plenty of times when he had to go out there and put up 30-plus points in order for us to get a win, and he just found a way to do it. So if there was any disappointment, it was in us as a defense, that we weren’t stepping up to the plate to get the job done for him and for the offense. But there was never any doubt that we would finally get to the point where the offense is rolling and clicking ’cause we know what he was capable of and that he would get the problems corrected, which he has.”

In the last two games before the bye, Manning threw 78 times without an interception. He and the braintrust stopped being seduced as much by their nuclear-strike weaponry and have begun involving the backs more in the passing game. Consider: Against the Eagles last month, Manning failed to complete a single pass to a back. Against the Bears, he completed two. Against the Vikings, he completed 10. Against the Eagles in the rematch, he completed five.