Odell Beckham Jr.
On a day when Beckham played in his first ever NFL game, it was surprising to see Preston Parker – the man whose role Beckham was supposedly taking over – lead the Giants in receiving yards with 61. Beckham, however, made his presence felt later in the game when he hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to give New York the lead in the fourth quarter. The rookie finished tied for the team lead with four receptions for the day and was second in receiving yards with 44. Quite the debut.
After starting running back Rashad Jennings was forced out of the game with a thankfully minor knee injury, Williams proved he has what it takes to carry a full-time rushing load. 65 yards on 20 carries isn’t too impressive on the surface, but Williams gained a lot of tough yards when the Giants needed them on Sunday, and he found the end zone as well for a key score after Big Blue had fallen behind by 10. Most importantly, though, was the fact that Williams caught both the balls he was targeted on. Williams has had trouble in the receiving game so far and could be turning a corner in that area.
The Giants were able to get pressure on Matt Ryan all day, but every time they seemed close to sacking him, he escaped by dumping the ball off to veteran running back Steven Jackson. That trend was finally reversed during Atlanta’s final meaningful possession of the game. Down by seven and facing 4th-and-1 from their own 29, the Falcons dropped Ryan back to pass, but Hankins burst through the line and tackled the quarterback before he had a chance to do anything with the ball. It was New York’s only sack of the game, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
After his three-touchdown performance in Washington, you knew things were not going to stay so easy for Donnell, but it was hard to imagining him being so invisible, as well. The Falcons made a clear effort to keep the ball away from the breakout tight end, and he finished with zero catches on just one target on Sunday. The good news is that the Giants’ offense was able to function pretty effectively despite Donnell’s disappointing performance. If he wants to get back to catching touchdown passes, he’s going to have to adjust to the increased defensive focus on him.
The Giants already lost a home game this season in part due to a crucial fumble by Demps. In Week 2 against Arizona, the safety fumbled a kickoff return when the Giants needed the ball to launch a comeback attempt. On Sunday, Demps appeared to have in his hands a crucial interception early in the third quarter, but he dropped the ball during the return, allowing the Falcons to regain possession. Yes, there was a holding penalty on Prince Amukamara that would have nullified the interception anyway, but the point is that Demps coughed the ball up again even though he rarely has his hands on it.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Rodgers-Cromartie has been a terrific free agent signing for the Giants so far, but he made a huge mistake during Anthone Smith’s 74-yard touchdown catch-and-run that nearly cost Big Blue the game. The Giants brought a blitz on that play, leaving Antrel Rolle to cover Smith one-on-one. Ryan flipped the ball out to Smith to counter the blitz, and Rolle appeared lined up to make a tackle, but the defensive captain slipped off of Smith, allowing the reserve back to sprint down the sidelines for the touchdown. A replay showed that there was one other Giant in position to make a play on Smith, but Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie slowed up when he saw Rolle in tackling position. If he hadn’t taken the play for granted, Smith probably gets run out of bounds after 20 yards or so.