Eli Manning overthrew wide-open Tim Carter near Atlanta's 15 and LCB DeAngelo Hall intercepted the pass to halt a drive that should've at least resulted in a Jay Feely FG late in the first quarter. Manning telegraphed his first throw of the game, which allowed LDT Rod Coleman to tip the ball at the line of scrimmage and LOB Demorrio Williams to intercept it at the Giants' 29. Manning completed only one of his first six pass attempts, but connected on 16 of his final 24 throws, without throwing an interception. Bottom Line: Manning overcame three terrible series to start the game.
With the Giants down 14-3 early in the third quarter and backed into a second-and-15 predicament from their own 11, Tiki Barber's 29-yard run through a huge hole on the left side swung momentum in the Giants' favor for good. The Giants scored their first touchdown on that drive and shut out the Falcons thereafter (24-0). In all, Barber gained 12 yards or more on 10 of his 29 touches and accounted for 13 first downs, almost half the time his number was called. Bottom Line: Barber was sensational against a rugged run defense.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
With OLB Michael Boley blanketing him, TE Jeremy Shockey showed strength and concentration in reaching across his body to make an incredible leaping catch for a 19-yard gain late in the third quarter. Five plays later, Shockey got open across the middle to make a 16-yard catch on a third-and-10 play from Atlanta's 31. The Giants went ahead 17-14 on Shockey's 2-yard catch two plays later. WR Tim Carter's footwork was perfect in catching a 15-yard pass from Manning at Atlanta's sideline on a third-and-11 play from Atlanta's 45, near the midway mark of the third quarter. Brandon Jacobs scored the Giants' first touchdown two plays later. Bottom Line: The injured Shockey stepped up.
RG Chris Snee's tackle of DE Patrick Kerney negated Barber's remarkable 25-yard catch-and-run, and forced the Giants into a second-and-32 situation from their own 30 just before halftime. On the previous play, RT Kareem McKenzie recovered Manning's fumble at the Giants' 40, but only after he allowed DE John Abraham to blow by him to sack and strip his QB, which caused a 12-yard loss. Bottom Line: The protection was above average and Barber ran wild.
With the Giants clinging to a 17-14 lead, NT Fred Cofield and DT Fred Robbins sacked escaping QB Michael Vick for an eight-yard loss on a third-and-two play from Atlanta's 29 and forced a punt early in the fourth quarter. Overall, they recorded four of the Giants' seven sacks, hit Vick often and limited him to only one big gain, his 22-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Bottom Line: The supposedly suspect tackles played well.
MLB Antonio Pierce's late hit on Vick, who was well out of bounds with 54 seconds to play in a decided game, was cheap and dangerous. WLB Brandon Short showed discipline by not biting on Vick's fake and blasting the scrambling QB out of bounds for a six-yard sack late in the second quarter. Three plays earlier, Short sacked Vick for an eight-yard loss and stripped him, but Vick recovered the fumble at Atlanta's 26. Bottom Line: Short showed he could handle the starting gig.
SS Jason Bell missed a waist tackle at Atlanta's 25 and out-of-position RCB Sam Madison made a poor attempt at an arm tackle five yards later, which allowed Warrick Dunn's 90-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. But Atlanta's wideouts accounted for only 64 receiving yards on six catches, and were very rarely open deep or in the end zone. Bottom Line: This was their second straight impressive performance.
He didn't boot one longer than 44 yards, but two of Jeff Feagles' four punts landed inside Atlanta's 20 and none of his kicks were returnable (two fair catches, a touchback and one out of bounds). KR Chad Morton was ordinary (two for 40 yards), but the kickoff coverage team was solid in allowing an average of 23.8 yards on four returns. Bottom Line: Jay Feely stayed steady against his old team.
Offensive coordinator John Hufnagel made a concerted effort to exploit Jeremy Shockey mismatches against Atlanta's linebackers. The Giants were penalized only five times for 45 yards, by far their lowest total of the season. Bottom Line: Seattle seems like more than three weeks ago.
Xs & Os: A review of the Giants by Position
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