Written by Ernie Casanova
Atlanta, GA – Both teams today came in with the idea of turning things around in hopes for a positive second half to the football season. As each defense thrived, both offenses gave fans much worrisome as the first points weren’t put up on the scoreboard until 10 minutes into the second quarter. Eli Manning put an end to his offensive woes for tonight, and although the Giants pass rush got to Matt Ryan a few times the Falcons (3-4) did enough to pull away from New York (1-6) to claim their second consecutive victory by a score of 23-20.
It was a very sluggish start for each team, with constant punts and inability to get in field goal range being much of the narrative for the first half of the game. Both of these defensive lines came out with maximum pressure as they amassed 3 sacks in the first 2 quarters, but started to lose some gas as the offenses started to get things going. After the Falcons’ first three possessions were punts, Matt Ryan quickly made work of the Giants’ 21st ranked pass defense on the next drive and struck first on the scoreboard by completing a 47-yard strike to WR Marvin Hall to put Atlanta up 7-0.
The running game was coming to a halt early, and now that Devonta Freeman is on IR, Ryan had to rely on Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith as his lone backfield weapons. Still, Ryan didn’t fret as he used his arm to balance what the running game couldn’t. After a Giants field goal cut their lead to 7-3, Ryan led them on another speedy drive to earn them three points as well to close out the half. They went into the locker room leading by seven and as both teams came out after the half, so did their offenses.
With the running game having some health and experience issues, Coleman shined as he finished with 11 rushes on 50 yards and a touchdown along with two receptions for 32 yards. Coleman broke free for the 30-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and displayed the kind of explosiveness this team will need out of the backfield without their starter in Freeman. “The back side was open, the line got the hole open, and I just busted through there,” mentions Coleman of the run.
Ryan had another superb outing, going 31-39 for 379 yards and one touchdown throw with no interceptions. He surely moved up in the statistical categories as he already is a top 10 quarterback in the league so far looking at the numbers.
“Yeah, I think it was huge for us to get the job done tonight,” Ryan mentions after the game. “To kind of inch our way closer to .500 is a positive for us. So it was a tough win, it took all three phases all night, but I’m proud of the effort across the board and that showed up for sixty minutes. So it was good for us and now a good chance for us to get some rest as well.”
Julio Jones still doesn’t have a touchdown reception this season, but led the team in receiving with nine catches for 104 yards. Jones states on the fumble, “The refs made the right call. I just have to do a better job in that situation and that’s to carry the ball better.” Behind him was Hall with three catches on 63 yards and the touchdown grab, as TE Austin Hooper came next with two catches for 45 yards. Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio was the unsung hero as he converted 100% on field goals with a longest of 56 near the end of the game.
As for the Giants, there just isn’t a specific question to figure out their issues. They have made adjustments to the line, so the narrative in blaming Ereck Flowers is out of the window. And Eli Manning threw for over 300 yards while completing over 60% of his passes. The defense got to Matt Ryan a favorable amount of times, and two receivers amassed over 100 yards receiving. The answer for today’s woes to say the least, was the inability to convert in the red zone.
The Giants went 1-4 in the red zone and that really doesn’t assist anybody with hopes of winning a game. In their last trip, they scored on a Barkley touchdown but failed on a two-point conversion, adding to the struggles.
“We have to find a way to score touchdowns when we get down there to the red zone,” says Manning of the red-zone woes. Setting up for field goals and the one time not getting anything that’s just what’s hampering us. That’s been the last couple of games. You get down there it just changes everything when you get touchdowns. You put a little pressure on the team and get a little more momentum. We would’ve tied the game or got the lead in a few scenarios.”
Manning finished the game 27-38 for 399 yards and one touchdown. Barkley had the lone touchdown for the team with the late score and finished the contest with 43 yards on the ground on 14 attempts as well as nine catches for 51 yards. Odell Beckham Jr and Sterling Shepard both lit up the stat sheet, as Beckham finished with 143 yards on eight catches with a score and Shepard with 167 yards on five catches. In TE Evan Engram’s first game since week 3, he finished with two catches for 16 yards.
The Falcons now go on a bye week, while the Giants take on the Washington Redskins next Sunday at 1: PM ET.