The Giants were once again a few minutes away from earning a win, and for the second-straight week they managed to let victory slip away – this time dropping a 24-20 decision to the Atlanta Falcons.
The Giants (0-2) failed to exorcise last Sunday’s demons, as they doomed themselves with another crushing defeat. The Falcons (2-0) stole the win after capitalizing on a conservative Giants second-half offense that failed to put away the game when presented with the opportunity. Too many times, the Giants failed to take advantage of a stagnant Falcons offense that was Julio Jones-dependent.
Eli Manning was statistically exceptional (27-of-40, 292 yards, and two touchdowns), but on back-to-back occasions, he missed wide-open targets (tight ends Larry Donnell and Jerome Cunningham) on second and third downs, respectively, ruining any chance of a comeback on New York’s final drive.
Metro recaps three things that led to yet another late-game defeat.
What we learned:
1. They say football is a game of inches, but it’s also made up of little things that go unnoticed that can often determine a win or loss. The Giants teetered that fine line for most of the game, and ended up paying the price in the end – particularly on Manning’s near-misses on the final drive, and on Atlanta’s game-winning drive. During the latter, Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones on a 37-yard fade down the sideline, putting the Falcons on the Giants’ 1-yard line with 1:46 remaining. Atlanta punched it in two plays later when Devonta Freeman scored on a run. The Jones catch was troubling as cornerback Prince Amukamara was lined in tight man coverage, but gave Jones a free release down the sidelines. Manning was also a culprit when he fumbled after being sacked on the Falcons’ 9-yard line, as New York was poised to really put some distance on the scoreboard late in the third. The offense also self-destructed when it converted on fourth-and-2 from the Atlanta 15, but it was nullified when wideout Dwayne Harris was called for illegal motion. Big Blue had to settle for a short field goal. New York’s defense also had a difficult time getting off the field on third down (Atlanta was 11-of-17 on third down conversions) - one moment being a microcosm of that when linebacker Jonathan Casillas dropped a sure interception at the Giants' 15. Instead of swinging the momentum, Atlanta was able to put points on the board. It’s the finer details that got the Giants beat again.
2. For the second straight week, the highlights failed to outweigh the lowlights. But if it’s any consolation, wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is every bit as good as any offensive player in the league. The second-year receiver was essentially the Giants’ offense. Much like last season’s theme, if not for him there’s no telling how the Giants would’ve ever managed to advance the ball. Beckham statistically went toe-to-toe with Jones (13 catches for 135 yards) as he scorched the Falcons' secondary for seven receptions, 146 yards, and a touchdown – although he only registered one catch for seven yards in the second half. Beckham’s seven receptions gave him 102 through his first 14 NFL games.
3. The Giants’ running game continues to disappoint, as it culled just 97 yards. When Manning is the team’s second-leading rusher, there’s a problem. Manning added a career-long 23-yard jaunt, but the fact that starting running back Rashad Jennings could only muster 12 yards is a serious situation for Big Blue. Andre Williams led the team with a pedestrian 43 yards on six carries, but 35 of that total came on one run. Otherwise, like the rest of his backfield mates, he was a non-factor.
Big Blue notes:
- The time of possession woes for the Giants was evident early, as the Falcons had 10 first downs in the first quarter, while the Giants only ran a total of nine plays. Atlanta’s first scoring drive was a 13-play, 86-yard sojourn, capped by running back Tevin Coleman’s one-yard plunge, with 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Big Blue didn’t get into any offensive rhythm until midway through the second quarter.
- Jones’s 13 catches tied a single-game club record (Tony Gonzalez).