Oct 052014
 
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Andre Williams, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The play had never been run. Not in a practice, and most certainly not in a game.

Eli Manning lined up in the shotgun formation with two wide receivers to his left, and one to his right. He took the snap and a couple steps back before hitting his back foot. A perfect pocket formed around him.

Manning then looked left and lobbed a pass into the end zone and in the direction of Odell Beckham Jr.

The rookie jumped up, came down, and instantly erased any and all criticism thrown his way. The score put New York on top for good in a 30-20 victory over the Atlanta Falcons yesterday in East Rutherford.

“Words can’t even describe it,” Beckham said. “To be out this long and to have to deal with the adversity I’ve had, I just want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play and allowing me to score in my first game.”

While Beckham was expected to be kept on a tight snap count, the Giants unleashed the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s draft in front of a rowdy crowd at MetLife Stadium. Of the 64 plays run by the Giants, Beckham was on the field for 37 of them, catching four passes for 44 yards and the score.

Early in the game, it appeared as if the Giants were gearing up for an ugly beginning to the month of October. After jumping on top, 7-0, the Giants watched as Atlanta scored 20 of the game’s next 23 points.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Facing a third down midway through the third quarter, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan found running back Antone Smith out of the backfield. Smith broke an Antrel Rolle tackle and raced 74 yards for a touchdown to put Atlanta up, 20-10.

“We caught them in a zero coverage,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “It was a great throw by Matt, getting the ball out of his hands. And in zero, there is no defensive depth and he just outran everybody.”

Preston Parker, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Preston Parker – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the life all but sucked out of MetLife Stadium, Manning answered on New York’s following drive, marching the team on a 83-yard touchdown drive. Rookie running back Andre Williams accounted for 33 of the yards, including a three-yard rushing touchdown.

The Giants defense then answered, forcing a Falcon three-and-out and giving the ball back to Manning. The quarterback, who completed 19-of-30 passes for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the afternoon, proceeded to complete 4-of-5 passes on the drive before finding Beckham for the go-ahead score.

“I was proud of the team today,” Manning said. “We got down 10 in the third quarter and we responded and responded right away. We had a drive and a touchdown. Our defense rallied and started getting some sacks and some stoppages, and offensively, we did what we had to do to win. So I was proud of the guys. No one started getting uptight or getting worried.”

On the ensuing drive, Atlanta took over trailing by seven with just over four minutes left. Facing a fourth on one, Smith kept the offense on the field. Ryan dropped back to pass, but felt pressure up the middle from defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. The second-year pro brought Ryan down for his second sack of the season.

“It was huge,” Coughlin said of Hankins’ play. “I figured they would try to kick the ball. It was close to four minutes (left).”

The Giants (3-2) will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles Sunday night. Philadelphia (4-1) presently sit in a two-way tie atop the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys.

Video highlights of today’s game are available at NFL.com.

Tom Coughlin’s Post-Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference are available at Giants.com.

Post-Game Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of the post-game media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

 

Oct 052014
 
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New York Giants Fans (October 5, 2014)

New York Giants Fans – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 30 – ATLANTA FALCONS 20

The New York Giants defeated the Atlanta Falcons, 30-20, Sunday afternoon to win the team’s third straight game. Below you will find a new quick hits and tidbits from the Giants victory.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Odell Beckham Jr. (unofficially) played 37 snaps and 35 plays Sunday afternoon. On New York’s back-to-back touchdown drives in the third and fourth quarter, Beckham was on the field for the majority of the plays of both series. These were his only consecutive drives of the afternoon. 36 of those snaps were played offensively, one on special teams. Beckham lined up to return one punt. He called a fair catch.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie worked in-and-out of the game. Cromartie said his ankle/groin flared up during the game, and as a result, he took it easy. Cromartie said he believes he’ll be a full participant in practice and will not be limited versus Philadelphia.

After the game, Zack Bowman received X-Rays. He said those x-rays were “precautionary” and not on any specific area. He said multiple times he is “fine.”

Rashad Jennings suffered a left knee sprain in the third quarter. He came out of the game and did not return. Jennings said he believes he is OK, but will have an MRI on the knee. All knee-related injuries are deemed “sprains” before an MRI depicts the exact amount of damage.

Entering the game, Beckham Jr. and Devon Kennard had been dealing with hamstring issues. Both players said they felt fine after the game and did not re-injure the areas. Kennard said he played every special teams snap. His hamstring was wrapped heavily after the game, but assured that was just precautionary and that if there was an aggravation of the area, he’d know already.

Eli Manning completed 19-of-30 passes for 200 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He has now completed 112-of-169 (66.8%) for 1,174 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. At this time last year, Manning had thrown eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

The one apparent “blunder” for Manning was when the quarterback overthrew a wide open Beckham for what could have been a 80+-yard touchdown. Manning said after the game that although the ball was in Beckham’s direction, it wasn’t to him. Manning was throwing the ball away. Just as Manning released the ball, Beckham broke open. Manning didn’t see anyone open and started to feel pressure so he threw the ball away. It may look on film like Manning missed Beckham, but in truth he was throwing it away.

After catching three touchdowns a week ago, Larry Donnell didn’t catch a pass and was only targeted once on Sunday. Manning spoke after the game and said that’s just how the game went. Rueben Randle was targeted a game-high 10 times. He caught four of them for 33 yards and a touchdown.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Receiver Preston Parker caught a three passes for a game-high 61 yards, highlighted by a 42-yard reception. Parker returned one kickoff and fumbled the ball away; Atlanta recovered and turned ended up kicking a field goal.

Andre Williams, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Andre Williams rushed 20 times for 65 yards and a touchdown, he caught two passes for 18 yards as well. Rashad Jennings ran 10 times for 55 yards.

Quintin Demps intercepted his second pass in as many weeks, but fumbled the ball on the return and Atlanta recovered. Johnathan Hankins had his second sack of the season.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed 29-of-45 passes for 316 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Julio Jones caught 11 passes for 105 yards.

Former Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who now plays for the Falcons, was an honorary captain for Atlanta. He recorded a sack of Manning in the second quarter, his first of the season.

Inactive for the New York Giants: WR Julian Talley, LB Jon Beason, G Adam Snyder, OT Charles Brown, DE Kerry Wynn, OT James Brewer, DT Jay Bromley

Inactive for the Atlanta Falcons: QB Sean Renfree, CB Javier Arenas, LB Tyler Starr, G Justin Blalock, T Cameron Bradfield, WR Harry Douglass, DE Cliff Matthews.

Oct 052014
 
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Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 30 – ATLANTA FALCONS 20

The New York Giants pulled out their third-straight victory Sunday afternoon, defeating the Atlanta Falcons, 30-20. It certainly didn’t start pretty, but as the final seconds ticked off of the clock, New York remained within one game of the NFC East division lead with a game against the Philadelphia Eagles on the horizon.

Below you will find some of the studs, and some of the duds, from the Giants victory this Sunday.

Please note, these observations are from the initial reaction. Game film has not been watched and the game has not been analyzed. These are just initial notes taken from Sunday’s game.

THE STUDS:

Odell Beckham Jr.
Starting with the obvious, the Giants rookie was everything the team could have hoped for and more Sunday afternoon. There were the big plays, the explosiveness and the scoring that Jerry Reese and Co. imagined when the team selected Beckham 12th overall in the draft.

Andre Williams
Another rookie, Andre Williams, looked eerily familiar to another former Giant that wore No. 44. Williams was running as if he was looking for contact. The thing about Williams is that he seems to get stronger as the game goes on. In the first half, Williams had -1 rushing yards. When the game ended, he had 65. He looks like he can be a very, very special player.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eli Manning
I had my doubts, a lot of them, during the preseason and first game of the regular season. I wrote them down, I made them known. I did not believe Eli Manning could play in a West Coast offense.

I was wrong.

Manning completed 19-of-30 passes for 200 yards, neither number impressive, but he threw two touchdowns and no interceptions. Manning continues to get the ball out of his hands lightning fast and is thriving with Ben McAdoo. The quarterback looks revitalized and has the Giants playing some of the best football I’ve seen in awhile.

The Offensive Line
Eli Manning was sacked just once and pressured just a few other times. Carl Banks said on WFAN a few weeks ago that sometimes it isn’t the offensive lines with the best players that are the best offensive lines, it’s the unit that plays together as unit the most that makes the best team. A few weeks in, that seems to be the Giants line. They’re opening running lanes and protecting Manning. As long as the line keeps doing those two things, the Giants will be in good shape.

Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (October 5, 2014)

Johnathan Hankins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Johnathan Hankins
I’ve said it, written it and tweeted it 100 times, the Giants have something special in Johnathan Hankins. Not only is Hankins a force against the run, but he’s developing into quite the interior pass rusher as well. Aside from the fourth down sack, there was one play that really stood out to me. In the third-ish quarter, Matt Ryan handed the ball off to a running back who tried to stretch it to the far side of the field. Hankins exploded off the line, shed his block, pursued down the line of scrimmage and made the tackle for a one-yard gain. It’s been a Giants routine to draft defensive tackles (Barry Coefield, Linval Joseph) and then let them go when their contracts are up. Hankins may be one the team is forced to hold on to. He’s a special player. A very, very special player.

THE DUDS:

Quintin Demps
The duds this week are much like those against the Houston Texans, more “uh ohs” than anything else. Demps’ interception was nice, but to then fumble the ball on the return isn’t good. Demps came to the Giants being known as someone with sure hands, for whatever reason that’s changed. Going back to the preseason, Demps has fumbled three returns (two kicks, one INT). Maybe the most infuriating thing about Demps return was after the ball came out, he was the only one to try to jump on it.

Preston Parker
The Giants defense bailed the team out on Preston Parker’s kick return fumble, but he cannot let go of that ball. That’s a play where the Giants offense is looking to answer, and instead the defense is right back on the field. Not to mention, it looked like Parker got caught by the turf monster on his 42-yard catch that should have been a 62-yard touchdown.

Oct 032014
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants, October 5, 2014

The New York Giants look to win their third consecutive game of the season and keep within one game of the NFC East lead entering a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles next week. The Falcons have the offensive weapons to be one of the most explosive teams in the league, but their offensive line bruised and battered beyond recognition.

What’s to look for in the Giants victory? Find out all that and more in BBI’s game preview:

FOUR DOWNS:

First Down
Who guards whom?
The Atlanta Falcons walk into MetLife Stadium with one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. The Giants, to this point in the NFL season, counter with two of the top 10 cornerbacks in the NFL. So, who gets whom? Will it be Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie versus the athletic Julio Jones? Will Prince Amukamara matched up against Roddy White? Or, will it be reversed. No matter where the Giants cornerbacks line up, the battle will be something to watch throughout Sunday afternoon.

Second Down
Time to feast for Giants defensive line?
One of the more pleasant surprises for the Giants defense this year has been the play of its defensive line. Robert Ayers Jr. has been one of the more underrated free-agent signings this offseason, Jason Pierre-Paul looks to be back to his 2011 form and Damontre Moore is developing into one of the better young defensive ends in the league. The corps, along with Johnathan Hankins, may have a field day against an injury-riddled Falcon front. Atlanta will be without center Joe Hawley, tackle Lamar Holmes and guard Joe Blalock.

Third Down
How much can Odell Beckham Jr. play? 
It’s becoming evidently clear that Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr. will see his first action of the season this Sunday, but how much action will that be? Will he have an impact? All these questions and more will be answered if the rookie suits up Sunday afternoon.

Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants (December 9, 2012)

Osi Umenyiora – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Fourth Down
Will  Osi Umenyiora be a factor?
For the first time in his career, Osi Umenyiora will suit up and play against the New York Giants. Two years ago, the disgruntled defensive end left east Rutherford in hopes of finding a big contract with another team. When he first signed with the Falcons last year, Umenyiora boasted claims of how he’d be the defensive player of the year and how Atlanta was the most talented team he’d ever been a part of. Those hopes have yet to materialize. Through four games this season, playing in a reduced pass rusher role, Umenyiora has yet to record a sack. But he’ll be amped up to go against New York. Will Sunday be a flash back to the Osi of old? If it is, the defensive end could make it a long day for Eli Manning.

BREAKING DOWN ATLANTA:

OFFENSE – by Eric Kennedy
Strength?
The Falcons are tied with the Colts for the #1 offense in the NFL in terms of yardage (444 yards per game), and #2 in the NFL in scoring (almost 33 points per game). The strength of their offensive team is quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. With third receiver Harry Douglas out, expect more chances for speedster Devin Hester at wideout. Jones and White may be the best 1-2 combination in the NFL at wide receiver. Jones has Calvin Johnson-like ability and we saw what Johnson did to the Giants. Ryan leads the NFL in pass plays over 20 yards, and when he’s “on”, he is a machine.

Weakness?
The Falcons have been hammered by injuries on the offensive line. The Falcons lost their left tackle in the preseason, forcing rookie Jake Matthews (#6 player taken in the 2014 Draft) to move from right tackle to left tackle. Last Sunday, they lost their starting right tackle and center for the season. In addition, their left guard will miss the game against the Giants. It will be a patch-work line for the Falcons on Sunday. That said, two of the replacements – Peter Konz and Gabe Carini – have started in the NFL. Harland Gunn is likely to start at left guard. He was just signed off of the practice squad.

DEFENSE – by Connor Hughes
Strength?
Not much is going right for the Atlanta Falcons defense right now. At all. The lone “bright spot” was the fact the team did a decent job containing the run in two of their four games. Versus the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta held Mark Ingram to 60 yards running and versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it held Bobby Rainey to 41 yards rushing. What about those two other games? Well, Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnnon ran for a combined 377 yards on the ground.

Weakness?
Just about everything. Without Adrien Peterson and with a starting quarterback making his first career start, the Minnesota Vikings exposed the Falcons for what they are: a weak defensive team. There’s little pass rush, little physicality and even less to go by in the secondary. The Vikings scored 41 points, gained 26 first downs and 558 total yards.  The Falcons defense simply isn’t very good, and the Giant should have their way with them.

PLAYER TO WATCH:

Odell Beckham (13) and Zack Bowman (31), New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Odell Beckham and Zack Bowman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Connor Hughes –
Odell Beckham Jr.
It may be the easy selection, but my eyes will be glued on No. 13 whenever he’s on the field. With the way the Giants offense has been clicking the last two games, albeit against the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins, the addition of Beckham can only improve the presently surging Giants.

When Beckham was selected, he was considered a player that had the ability to score in three separate ways: receiving, kick return and punt return. Aside from that, he was all but named the starting outside receiver, allowing Victor Cruz to play in the slot. If Beckham can be the player the Giants imagined he would, the offense can take a huge step forward.

I’ll have my eyes on Beckham in how well he knows the offense. Does he zag when Manning wants him to zig? These are the little things that are ironed out by getting reps together. Because of Beckham’s hamstring, he and Manning haven’t had many together.

Eric Kennedy –
Quintin Demps
I was tempted to list Jon Beason as I believe the Falcons will need to try to run the ball quite a bit in order to prevent Matt Ryan from getting killed. But aside from special teams and turnovers, the easiest way for the Giants to lose this game is giving up big pass plays to Jones, White, and Hester. As mentioned above, the Falcons lead the NFL in big plays over 20 yards. They may not be able to sustain long drives with their beat-up offensive line, but they certainly can get cheap touchdowns. And Demps – as the last line of defense – has to be in the right spot and not give up big plays and cheap points.

FROM THE COACHES’ MOUTH:

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Coughlin –  “They’re 2-0 in their division. They started the year off with an outstanding win over New Orleans in the division. They did a very good job in the offseason of acquiring veteran players. They drafted well, they all seem to be contributing very well. All three phases are very skilled, including special teams with Devin Hester.”

Mike Smith – “I think Eli is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. I think you are only as good as your last game in the NFL. I think that is the world that we live in. I think his body of works speaks for itself. He is a two-time Super Bowl Champion. The last two weeks he has run Coach [Ben] McAdoo’s offense that he brought in almost flawlessly. Everybody wants to jump to conclusions on one game, two games and you have to look at the body of work over a long period of time.”

FINAL WORD:

Connor Hughes – The Giants offense seems to be rolling, the defense is forcing turnovers and the special teams is, well, hanging out for the ride. In the three facets of the game, I believe the Giants offense is better than the Falcons defense, and the Giants defense is better than the Falcons offense with their offensive line issues. Special teams is the one area I believe the Giants are dramatically worse in.

It’s going to be interesting to watch the Giants cornerbacks match up against Atlanta’s receivers, but I’m not sure Matt Ryan will have the time to get them the ball. The offensive line is banged up, the Giants defensive line is playing their best football in years. This one could be over early. Giants 34 – Atlanta 17.

Eric Kennedy – Too much confidence by fans, and I fear, from the Giants this week. This is exactly the type of game the Giants have blown in recent years. Even when winning two NFL titles in 2007 and 2011, there was not a lot of week-by-week consistency by the G-Men except for the 2008 season. The Giants should win this game. But they have to prove to me they have the leadership and maturity to avoid a letdown before playing their two biggest division rivals. And Devin Hester against the Giants special teams? We’ve seen this act before. Giants dominate statistically, but Falcons score on offense, defense, and special teams. Falcons 27 – Giants 10.