Eli Manning threw the ball as well as he has in quite some time. To put it simply, the Giants averaged 9.2 yards every pass play. That clearly illustrates that Manning was on his game, making several laser downfield throws on which his receivers made nice catches. An early INT was his only blemish.
Bottom line: The Giants would certainly love to bottle Eli's 384 yards and 111.5 QB rating.
Brandon Jacobs was basically average in this one before leaving with a knee injury. Ahmad Bradshaw was even worse. The Giants never could get their running game on track, averaging only 3.4 yards per carry. The highlight of the game came when Jacobs pulled a Tiki Barber and tossed the ball to his wife in the stands after his 2-yard TD run.
Bottom line: New York certainly can't always count on winning via the air. It might be time for a little more Danny Ware.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Kevin Boss turned in a great individual effort midway through the second quarter when he caught a Manning pass at the Falcons 10-yard line and managed to elude multiple defenders to get into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown. Boss later did a great job of using his body to shield the Atlanta defender while catching a 4-yard TD pass right before halftime.
Bottom line: Mario Manningham was an absolute, unstoppable beast in this one, catching six balls for 126 yards, including a huge 29-yard gain in OT.
It was a mixed bag for the boys up front. They were responsible for the lack of a running game. But they also deserve some credit for allowing Eli Manning the time to throw 39 times and only surrendering one sack. RT Kareem McKenzie appeared to do a real good job on dangerous Falcons DE John Abraham, who only had one QB hit and two tackles.
Bottom line: They can clearly succeed with a performance like this; you're going to win most games in which you put up 34 points.
If nothing else, the Giants defensive linemen jumped offsides all game long. Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard were both flagged in the first quarter and Osi Umenyiora in the third. In between, Barry Cofield was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul. However, Cofield played perhaps his best game of the season, posting five stops, and Justin Tuck's sack/forced fumble late in the first half totally turned the game in New York's favor.
Bottom line: The sack numbers are still down, but the QB hits and pressures were certainly plentiful.
The LB unit took a huge jolt when emotional leader Antonio Pierce found out on Friday that he'd be out of action not only against Atlanta, but most likely for the rest of the season with a bulging disk in his neck. Chase Blackburn filled in very well at MLB, posting seven stops and a tackle for loss. Blackburn was flagged for a costly holding penalty, which fortunately didn't directly lead to any Atlanta points, but did enable the Falcons to convert a third down after the Giants appeared to have them stopped.
Bottom line: Michael Boley was a man possessed. More on his revenge game in Game Notes.
CB Corey Webster made an outstanding play late in the third quarter when he closed a lot of ground and was able to knock away a Matt Ryan pass to Michael Jenkins. Ryan floated his pass to a wide-open Jenkins, but Webster got there just in time. A few plays earlier S Aaron Rouse was nailed for a late hit for foolishly blasting Atlanta RB Jason Snelling after he had stepped out of bounds. All in all, Rouse played a pretty solid game for the Giants, making nine tackles and batting away a pass.
Bottom line: The high number of passing yards was certainly not just the fault of the secondary.
While Lawrence Tynes came through when it mattered most, nailing a 36-yarder in overtime, the Giants really need to be able to count on him more consistently. Had he hit the 31-yarder he missed earlier, overtime likely wouldn't have been necessary. Domenik Hixon did a good job returning kickoffs, almost breaking one the distance on his long return of 34 yards.
Bottom line: No surprise at all that Bryan Kehl led the way with three specialty tackles.
It's impossible to feel much better about the defense and its coordinator Bill Sheridan after this one. Giving up a two-TD lead in the fourth quarter of a must-win game is hardly the way to endear yourself to the Giants faithful. But fortunately Kevin Gilbride and the offense made all the right calls and the Giants were able to win this shootout.
Bottom line: They had to win and they did. Now comes the hard part: flying cross-country and playing on a short week.
X's and O's: Giants 34, Falcons 31 (OT)
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