Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images
ATLANTA FALCONS 24 – NEW YORK GIANTS 20…
The New York Giants squandered another 10-point fourth-quarter lead and fell to the Atlanta Falcons 24-20 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the loss, the Giants fell to 0-2. It’s the first time in team history that the Giants have started three seasons in a row 0-2. It is also the first time in NFL history that a team has lost its first two games after leading by 10 points or more in the fourth quarter. The Giants have lost their last four home openers.
Each team moved the football to start the game but was forced to punt. The Falcons then went up 7-0 after a 13-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter. The Giants responded with a 10-play, 45-yard drive early in the second quarter that resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Josh Brown. Falcons 7 – Giants 3.
The Falcons immediately followed that field goal drive with one of their own as Atlanta went 56 yards in 11 plays to set up a 42-yard effort. The Giants quickly tied the game on a short slant pass from quarterback Eli Manning to wide out Odell Beckham who turned on the burners en route to a 67-yard touchdown play. The game was tied 10-10.
Neither team was able to move the football for the rest of the half until the Giants last possession before intermission. The Giants drove the ball 30 yards in six plays to set up a 44-yard field goal that gave New York the lead at halftime 13-10.
The Giants received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved the ball 69 yards in nine plays to go up 20-10. The big play on the drive was a 37-yard pass to running back Shane Vereen on 3rd-and-5. Three plays later, Manning hit tight end Larry Donnell for a 10-yard score on 3rd-and-4.
Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images
The Giants defense forced a three-and-out and the Giants offense then let a golden opportunity to put the Falcons away slip through their fingers. After a 35-yard run by running back Andre Williams and a 12-yard run by Vereen on 3rd-and-7, the Giants were able to drive deep into Atlanta territory. But on 3rd-and-2 from the 8-yard line, Manning was sacked and fumbled the ball away to the Falcons. Instead of being up 27-10 or 23-10, the score remained 20-10. Worse for New York, after this mistake with less than five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Giants offense basically shut down for the remainder of the game.
The Falcons immediately took advantage by driving 91 yards in 12 plays to cut the Giants lead to 20-17 with under 13 minutes to play. The 10-yard touchdown pass to wideout Leonard Hankerson came on 3rd-and-9. The Giants did reach the Falcons 38-yard line on the ensuing drive but running back Rashad Jennings’ 3rd-and-2 run was stuffed for a loss and the Giants punted.
The Giants defense held after giving up a couple of first downs and the Giants received the ball back with 4:24 to play. But New York could not pick up one first down and was forced to punt. Worse, on this series, the Giants were called for delay of game after an Atlanta timeout.
The Falcons then quickly drove 70 yards in seven plays for the game-winning touchdown with 1:14 left to play. The Giants had a glimmer of hope after a 30-yard defensive pass interference penalty against Beckham gave them the ball at midfield with 1:02 to play. But the game ended after four straight Manning incompletions, including two drops by tight end Larry Donnell and wide receiver Preston Parker.
Offensively, the Giants accrued 19 first downs and 388 total net yards (97 rushing, 291 passing). The Giants were 10-of-17 (59 percent) on 3rd down conversions. Manning finished 27-of-40 for 292 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. But his fumble on the goal line was very costly. Beckham caught seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown while Vereen caught eight passes for 76 yards. Williams was the leading rusher with six rushes for 43 yards. Jennings was limited to 12 yards on nine carries.
Defensively, the Giants allowed 25 first downs and 402 total net yards (56 rushing, 346 passing). The Falcons were 11-of-17 (65 percent) on 3rd down conversions. New York did not force a turnover. Defensive end Robert Ayers and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins each had sacks and the Giants were credited with eight quarterback hits.
Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered a burner early in the game, later returned, but then suffered a concussion that ended his game. Left tackle Ereck Flowers re-injured his ankle and did not return. “(Rodgers-Cromartie) has to go through the protocol,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Flowers, I hope it’s not going to be a continuous thing that bothers him all year long.”
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and various players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Daniel Fells (foot), LB Jon Beason (knee), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), S Cooper Taylor, and OT Bobby Hart.
QB Eli Manning increased his career passing yards total to 40,240, which moved him one yard in front of Johnny Unitas (40,239) and into 14th place on the NFL’s career list. Manning is the 15th player in history to pass for at least 40,000 yards.
WR Odell Beckham increased his career reception total to 103, which is an NFL record for the first 16 games (a full season) in a career. Beckham set the mark in only 14 games. It was the fifth time in his last six games dating back to last season that Beckham totaled at least 130 receiving yards.