The New York Giants (6–4) won a critical game at home on Sunday in defeating the Atlanta Falcons (5–5) in overtime 34–31.
In addition to breaking a four-game losing streak, the win allowed New York to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys who hold a one-game lead in the NFC East Division. It also gave the Giants a confidence boost with a very tough schedule ahead.
Undeniably, the story of this game was the Giants' offense with the play of wide receiver Mario Manningham (6 receptions, 126 yards), tight end Kevin Boss (5 receptions, 76 yards, 2 touchdowns), and Eli Manning (25–39, 384 yards passing, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception).
Boss spoke with www.giants.com and is excited to become a larger part of the offense, “I feel pretty confident when we get down there [end zone] that I can help the team out and I’m confident in my abilities to score some touchdowns.”
The Giants offense, which generated 456 total yards, gave Eli Manning his first career 300-yard passing game at home.
Starting the first half, New York was a bit sluggish and had a hard time driving the ball on the ground. The offensive line, a unit that appeared dominant last season, also had trouble protecting Eli Manning.
Midway through the second quarter, with the offense clicking, Manning hit tight end Kevin Boss for a huge 28-yard touchdown that got the crowd going and gave momentum to New York. On the play, Manning found the talented tight end wide open near the sidelines. Boss then gave a defender the stiff arm and surged into the end zone.
Manning and Boss hooked up again in the closing seconds of the half after the Giants went to a quick tempo and marched 30 yards downfield. On the scoring play, Manning threw a quick pass to Boss in the center of the end zone, making the score 17–7.
For most of the half, New York’s defense was aggressive and put plenty of pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. So good was the defense, that Atlanta couldn’t muster 100 yards of total offense.
Falcons Take Flight
But the second half was a much different story, as the Giants defense had trouble keeping the Falcons out of the end zone.
Starting the third quarter, the Falcons received the ball and put together an eight play, 69-yard scoring drive that included a 1-yard touchdown run by Jason Snelling. The score put Atlanta within three points of New York.
But the Giants offense was not to be outdone by Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
After receiving the ball, the Giants went to the air and Manning hit wide receiver Steve Smith with a 51-yard pass down the left sideline
New York was aided later in the drive from a pass interference call on Atlanta corner Chris Houston that gave them the ball at the 1-yard line. Shortly after, Brandon Jacobs ran it in, giving the Giants a 24–14 lead.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Giants put together another scoring drive that was capped off with a 3-yard run by fullback Madison Hedgecock making the score 31–14.
But Atlanta stormed back with less than five minutes left in the game and scored 14 unanswered points with touchdown passes to wide receiver Eric Weems and all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez, sending the game into overtime.
The Giants won the overtime coin toss and got great field position from a 34-yard kickoff return by Domenik Hixon. With the ball near midfield, Eli Manning put together a productive drive with the critical play being a 29-yard pass to Manningham down the right sideline.
With the game on the line, Lawrence Tynes connected on a 36-yard field goal that won it for New York and snapped their four-game slump.
Head coach Tom Coughlin was proud of his team’s effort, “We did do a lot of soul searching, probably. Just in terms of believing in each other, trusting, that type of thing. We didn’t necessarily start the game out all that well. We did finish it okay.”
Room for Improvement
The game was an emotional win for Big Blue but they will have little time to celebrate as they go on the road to face the Denver Broncos on Thanksgiving night.
Questions also remain regarding the defense. During the first half of the game they shut down Atlanta but had an almost identical breakdown in coverage as what occurred against the San Diego Chargers two weeks ago.
Against the struggling Broncos, the Giants must do better as they face a team that has lost four in a row and is fighting for their playoff lives.