The Giants ran over the Falcons in a 30-20 decision.
It was intriguing to see the Giants (3-2) storm to their third straight win in such an aggressive manner, as they rode the hard running of Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings to the win.
Jennings had 10 carries for 55 yards before bowing out to injury in the third quarter.
New York executed a great run-pass balance, as their running backs toted the ball 34 times, while quarterback Eli Manning attempted 30 passes. The slugfest was rather shocking considering the state of the respective passing offenses coming into this matchup.
Manning (19-of-30 for 200 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions) had just come off an impressive aerial performance in Washington last week, while Matt Ryan’s offense is known for filling the skies, too. But it was the Giants’ running game — and a resilient defense — that stymied Ryan and never allowed him to really get in synch.
What we learned …
1. Rookie’s got game
Odell Beckham Jr. made his pro debut and gave the hopeful something to cheer about, as his presence was felt in the latter portion of the contest. The former LSU star was drafted for his next-level speed and ability to separate with as a route-runner. Both were on display against the Falcons. Beckham, who didn’t play at all in the preseason or the first month of the season due to a hamstring injury he suffered during offseason workouts, looked like an explosive wideout. He tallied five receptions for 44 yards, but it was his presence in the deep passing game that also kept the Falcons on their toes and allowed the other Giants receivers to work the underneath routes without a safety clogging up the middle of the field. His 15-yard go-ahead touchdown at the 10-minute mark was artistic. He beat Robert Alford for the score, despite the veteran cornerback being flagged for an egregious holding call as they were jostling down the field. Beckham was forced to re-adjust his leap mid-jump to outmuscle Alford. It capped an 11-play, 64-yard drive and proved to be the winning margin.
2. Step up
Andre Williams was another rookie who looked like he belonged on the field. The first-year running back had 41 rushing yards in the third quarter alone, following the injury to starter Rashad Jennings (knee), who was knocked out for the game midway through the quarter. Williams finished with 65 yards on 20 carries, but it was his shifty and hard-charging running style that pleased Big Blue and made the difference. Williams, who dons the same No. 44 the once-beloved Ahmad Bradshaw used to wear, has the same manic running style Giants fans loved about Bradshaw. The rookie’s 3-yard touchdown run to end the third quarter was Bradshaw-esque, as he burst through the Falcons’ defensive line and ran over linebacker Paul Warrilow for the score. He even caught both of his targets for 18 yards to show he’s been working on the one major flaw in his game since his college days.
3. Bend, don’t break
The Giants’ defense bent but didn’t break against a high-powered Falcons’ offense. Atlanta’s Julio Jones certainly stuffed the box score with game-highs of 11 receptions for 105 yards, but he was held out of the end zone. Big Blue also didn’t allow the others to get involved, as Atlanta was never in rhythm. Jones’ sidekick, veteran stalwart Roddy White, was nonexistent as he could only muster two catches for 26 yards. The explosive Devin Hester (two catches for 16 yards) was also kept at bay and aside from running back Antone Smith’s 74-yard catch and run touchdown on a pass into the flat, the Falcons’ vaunted passing attack was grounded. Quarterback Matt Ryan (29-of-45 and 316 yards) wasn’t sacked, but he was picked off once and under enough pressure — and hit multiple times — to disrupt Atlanta’s passing game. Oversized defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins made the defensive play of the day for Big Blue when he sacked Ryan for a loss of nine yards at the Falcons’ 19-yard line on fourth-and-1, with just over four minutes remaining, to quell any thoughts of a comeback. The sack set up Josh Brown’s 26-yard game-icing field goal.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.