Giant Takeaways: Miscues Doom Giants as Falcons Fly to Victory
The New York Giants fell to the Atlanta Falcons 23-20 at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Monday night to fall to 1-6 for the second consecutive year.
After a 3-3 score, the Falcons broke away just before halftime, as quarterback Matt Ryan would hit wide receiver Marvin Hall for a 47-yard touchdown pass to give them a 10-3 lead. One in which Atlanta would not surrender.
Don’t let the final score confuse you, the majority of the game saw the Giants shooting themselves in the foot on various offensive drives, and the Falcons capitalizing.
With that in mind, here are some of the takeaways from a very interesting Giants performance.
Changes on O-Line, Same Results
Head coach Pat Shumur made some changes to his offensive line, as noted in the game preview. Patrick Omameh hit the bench, John Greco switched over to right guard, and Spencer Pulley got the start at center.
Even with those changes, we got the same results.
But the main issues were on the left side of the line, as Nate Solder, the team’s huge offseason acquisition, looked out of place. Solder missed numerous blocks, which in turn, made Manning vulnerable to the incoming Falcons defenders.
Rookie Will Hernandez struggled as well, granted a lot of it came from the miscommunication from Solder. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett would have a field day with Hernandez, as he got past the rookie, resulting in two sacks.
Regardless of the changes at the line of scrimmage, it has been the same old story with this o-line, proving there is still work to be done in order to fix this years-long project.
Manning’s Strong Stat-Line Overshadowed by Questionable Decisions
There were moments during the game where Manning’s throws were on the money. Sterling Shepard’s 58-yard reception and Odell Beckham’s 51-yard grab certainly stand out. However, the veteran quarterback made some rather head-scratching decisions.
One that stands out in particular is the Giants going for it on fourth and goal in the third quarter. Beckham appeared to be wide open on the slant route. Instead, Manning opts to throw it to tight end Scott Simonson, who is jammed between two Atlanta defenders. As a result, the pass was ruled incomplete and a turnover on downs. Not to mention Rhett Ellison was wide open right behind Simonson.
Make no mistake about it, that play was designed for Beckham. You could even read head coach Pat Shurmur’s lips on the ESPN broad cast.
“What? Throw it to Odell.”
Yup, if Manning had thrown it to Beckham, they would have tied the game. And Shurmur looked increasingly frustrated as the game continued.
While Manning completed 27-of-38 pass attempts for 399 yards and a touchdown, the decision-making overshadows his efficient stat sheet.
Throw it to Odell
Giants owner John Mara told Beckham to “let his play do the talking,” after a heavily publicized couple of weeks. Between the Lil Wayne saga (which is still mind-boggling) and Beckham’s “I don’t like water” press conference.
But did Beckham’s play ever do the talking on Monday night. Who knew that getting the ball to Odell could put the Giants in scoring position?
Beckham hauled in eight receptions for an impressive 143 yards and a late score. The receiver even had two crucial catches on New York’s first touchdown drive.
The Giants entered Atlanta with a favorable matchup against a banged up secondary. Beckham and Shepard (five catches, 167 yards) took advantage of it.
Going For Two??? Shurmur’s Play Calls Confuse All
The Giants finally got a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and appeared to be on their way to cut their deficit down to seven.
Wait, they’re going for two? Even with Aldrick Rosas healthy? Huh?
That was the decision Shurmur called for, and it didn’t pay off. Manning threw a low pass to Beckham and he’s unable to haul it in. New York now found themselves down eight points, instead of seven. Shurmur explained that he went over it with his coaching staff, and the analytics showed that going for two was the right call.
The confusion didn’t end there. The Giants saw themselves down 23-12 after a Giorgio Tavecchio 56-yard field goal. Manning would make a money throw to Shepard to set up the Giants in the red zone. With the clock ticking, Shurmur would call for a quarterback sneak, which was unsuccessful. So with the clocking continuing to wind down, they went for the same play again, with similar results. Those two plays left the Giants little-to-no time to attempt a comeback.
Beckham would make a nice toe-drag touchdown reception, but New York had just five seconds remaining in the game.
There are times to be aggressive in play-calling and following analytics, which fans all scream for at times. But with a team that is now 4-19 in the last two seasons, maybe playing it safe isn’t such a bad idea.
Pass Defense Torched by Atlanta
The Giants entered Atlanta knowing they had to face a Cerberus of a wide receiving corps in Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Calvin Ridley. Not to mention they had a former NFL MVP in Matt Ryan chucking them “the Duke.”
While there were some bright spots in the secondary, such as Janoris Jenkins forcing Jones to fumble deep in Giants territory. However, the Atlanta offense proved to be too much.
With focus set on the Falcons’ top three receivers, New York left the other receivers open for some catches. Jenkins was burned by Hall on a deep touchdown pass. While he did not receive any help in the secondary, but Jenkins was burned badly, just over a week after he was exploited by Alshon Jeffery of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Giants defense was on the field for over 32 minutes, so that can play a factor, especially with New York’s lack of offense early on in the game.
Matt Ryan would finish the night completing 31-of-39 passes for 379 yards and a touchdown, while Julio Jones caught nine of Ryan’s throw for 104 yards, proving to be a mismatch for the Giants secondary.
Atlanta has so many targets that it proved to be difficult for New York to contain them.
The Giants will now have a short week to prepare for the NFC East-leading Washington Redskins on Sunday. In what continues to look like a lost season for New York, it will be interesting to see which Redskins team shows up, as they have looked both great and terrible this year.
Will New York finally get everything clicking? Or will they continue to go downhill? We will find out this coming Sunday.
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