The New York Giants fell to the Atlanta Falcons in Big Blue's home opener

Mental miscues plagued the New York Giants yet again as they fell to 0-2 on the season after losing to the Atlanta Falcons 24-20.

The Giants won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to the second half.

 

Matt Ryan led the Falcons on an 11-play, 40 yard drive that stalled at the Giants 44-yard line. New York’s pass-rush was virtually non-existent throughout the possession as Ryan sat in the pocket untouched and wide receiver Julio Jones collected four receptions for 19 yards.

On the Giants first offensive possession of the game, Eli Manning’s unit started fast with a 6-yard rush from Rashad Jennings followed by a 7-yard reception by Odell Beckham Jr. With a fresh set of downs, Big Blue tried to get Shane Vereen involved in the offense, handing it off to him for a 2-yard loss, followed by a 2-yard pass to the shifty running back. On 3rd-and-10 Manning slung an incomplete pass intended for tight end Jerome Cunningham and New York was forced to punt from its own 44.

On the ensuing possession, the Falcons marched 86 yards on 13 plays, with RB Tevin Coleman waltzing in for a 1-yard score. Ryan completed 5-of-8 pass attempts for 68 yards including an 11-yard strike to Leonard Hankerson to set Atlanta up just shy of the goal line.

The Giants offense finally showed signs of life on their second possession as Beckham stole the show with two highlight reel grabs as Big Blue drove to Atlanta’s 15-yard line.  From there, New York faced a 4th-and-2 and opted to keep its offense on the field. Manning handed off to Jennings who rushed for 4-yards, but wide receiver Dwayne Harris was flagged for an illegal motion penalty negating the first down. Big Blue settled for a 38-yard field goal from Josh Brown to close the gap to 7-3.

Ryan wasted little time in getting Atlanta’s engines started as he drove down to the Giants 24, and Matt Bryant split the uprights with a 42-yard field goal.

Trailing 10-3, the Giants needed a play to wake up the MetLife Stadium crowd and Beckham provided another jaw-dropping play; hauling in a bullet from Manning and racing 67-yards to the end zone. Tom Coughlin had been imploring his offense to creating explosive passing plays and the sophomore wideout answered his coach’s plea.

Clearly energized by the Giants scoring drive, the defense forced the Falcons into a three-and-out and handed the ball over to the offense with just under 4:00 minutes left in the first half.

Manning faced a 3rd-and-7 from the 28 and connected with Beckham for a 19-yard gain, but the Falcons defense clamped down and stopped Big Blue at the 47.

 

 New York’s defense finally hit its stride with defensive end Cullen Jenkins flying through for a sack of Ryan to fore 3rd-and-16 from his own 14-yard line. Atlanta punted and the Giants took the ball with 58 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Manning drove to the edge of field goal range at the Atlanta 39 and on 3rd-and-5 rushed for a career long 23 yards to set up Brown for a chip shot, which gave New York a 13-10 halftime advantage.

The Giants didn’t relinquish the momentum at the start of the third quarter as they took the ball 69 yards on 9 plays capped by a 10-yard touchdown throw from Manning to Larry Donnell. The Giants jumped out to a 20-10 lead and on the next defensive possession they forced Atlanta into its third straight three-and-out.

New York had a golden opportunity to extend its lead running back Andre Williams took the first play of the ensuing drive 35-yards down to the Falcons 31. Six plays later, the Giants face 3rd-and-2 from the Falcons 8 and Manning was sacked by Kroy Biermann and Atlanta’s Paul Soliai recovered the fumble.

The Falcons put on their most impressive series of the game eating up 6:36 on the clock and driving  91 yards on 12 plays. Ryan bulleted a picture-perfect 10 yard pass to Hankerson on 3rd-and-9 to cut the deficit to 3.

The scoring parade came to a halt for the next three offensive possessions and the Falcons took over with 3:12 left in the contest. After producing just 4 yards on the first two plays on the drive, Atlanta faced a pivotal 3rd-and-6 from the 45. Ryan completed a clutch pass to Hankerson for a 17-yard burst to move the chains and into Giants territory.

After the two-minute warning, Ryan dropped back and launched a mile high pass for Jones down the left sideline and he hauled it in for what appeared to be a  37-yard touchdown. The call on the field was reviewed and the officials determined that Jones was down on the 1-yard line. Two play later Devonta Freeman punched it in for the go-ahead touchdown. Bryant booted through the extra point and the Falcons built a 24-20 advantage.

 

The Giants had 1:12 left in the game to make a miracle drive, but their drive stalled at midfield when Preston Parker let a ball slip out of his grasp on fourth down and Atlanta took over possession.

 

Big Blue dropped to 0-2 on the season after a crushing defeat in the season opener to Dallas plagued by mental mistakes and watching a game slip out of their hands in the home opener against Atlanta.

 

Game Notes:

Members of the 1990 New York Giants Super Bowl team were honored at halftime for their 25 year anniversary. The Giants Beat's Rick Laughland interviewed Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and talked about his legacy in the NFL. 

 


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