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Falcons 23 - Giants 20 final score: A Monday night squeaker gets Atlanta to 3-4

The Falcons head into the bye with their second straight win, and that’s all that really matters.

New York Giants v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s fair to say that many of us expected a shootout in this one, given that neither the Giants or Falcons defense has been all that impressive in 2018. Instead, the game started out as a defensive battle, with both teams holding one another in check until the second quarter. The Falcons shuffled the deck a little on defense and saw results, and they got enough offense to head into halftime with the lead.

The second half was more of the same, with very little scoring and a surprising amount of defense. Atlanta’s offense was a bit hobbled by the lack of a running game or quality blocking up front, but they still have the weapons to make things happen and wound up pulling ahead by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Of course, this being the Falcons, they couldn’t cruise. Atlanta surrendered a relatively easy touchdown to the Giants after that, with Odell Beckham eating and Saquon Barkley finally getting the score. The Falcons drilled a long field goal to make it an 11 point game (thanks, Giorgio Tavecchio), but the Giants managed to get the score and the two point conversion with five seconds left. New York’s horrible time management cost them, though, and Atlanta had their latest narrow win.

In a different season, this would have been considered a lousy game for the Falcons, but because of their defensive woes this season and our low expectations, I found it quite engrossing. Seeing the Falcons finally put together an effective defensive gameplan, opponent notwithstanding, was borderline thrilling. The Falcons did enough on offense to win, too, even if it would hardly be enough against a superior team. Right now, I’m just happy to see this team heading into the bye with a two game winning streak, and we’ll see what they can do from here. As the injuries keep piling up, that’s all we can really do.

Here’s our quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the game.

First Quarter

The Falcons elected to receive and picked up two quick first downs, one on a pass to Julio Jones and the second courtesy of Tevin Coleman. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got, as the Falcons stalled out and then allowed Matt Ryan to get sacked on third down. Punt.

The Giants picked it up behind their own 20 and started things off with a run to Saquon Barkley and an Eli Manning dart to Odell Beckham Jr. for a first down. Another short pickup to Barkley later, this time on a pass, and then Manning found a wide open Beckham again for a first down. Fortunately, first down saw Grady Jarrett sack Manning for a seven yard loss. Two short passes to Barkley later, the Giants also had to punt. To about the one yard line.

The Falcons found Julio on the sideline immediately to get out of danger, and then Tevin Coleman picked up a handful. Ryan found Julio downfield, but a holding call on Eric Saubert brought it back. Fortunately, the Falcons pulled off a great play fake to Ito Smith and found Calvin Ridley, who managed a first down. Unfortunately, an unblocked Giant came and took Ryan down for a 12 yard sack on the next play, leaving the falcons to hit Marvin Hall for a decent pickup, followed by Mohamed Sanu with a gutsy first down and some sideline jawing. Unfortunately, Ryan would be sacked again, and the Falcons would have to punt once more.

Second Quarter

The Giants put together a semi-promising drive before punting. Sound familiar? A Jack Crawford sack was the highlight of the drive for Atlanta, though Vic Beasley got pressure and came awfully close to a sack himself on the final third down.

The Falcons were bailed out on third down by the one, the only, the Julio Jones after two unproductive runs to start the drive off. Wes Schweitzer then false started, because of course, and the Falcons then set about not getting a first down in crisp fashion. Punt, and a nice Giants return.

The Giants made nothing of it, with an Eli Manning interception, nice run stop and Takk McKinley sack getting the job done for Atlanta. Punt.

The Falcons started things off in spectacular fashion after a short Tevin Coleman run, using play action to connect with Austin Hooper on a terrific catch for 36 yards. Then Ryan went deep again, nailing Marvin Hall in the end zone for an easy touchdown to put the Falcons on the board for the first time.

Falcons 7 - Giants 0

The Giants wanted to respond, and got going in fits and starts. They found themselves on third down and then Manning hit Beckham for a huge gain, and then the Giants nearly picked up a first down with Barkley before falling just a yard short. Wayne Gallman got a first down to bring us to the two minute warning. Unfortunately, Sterling Shephard beat Robert Alford to get the Giants inside the red zone, and the Giants were moving with time ticking down in the second quarter. Fortunately for the Falcons, they managed to stall out after a short pass, Eli Manning pass out of the back of the end zone, and Atlanta’s fourth sack of the game thanks to excellent coverage. The Giants settled for three.

Falcons 7 - Giants 3

Atlanta’s next drive was costly. The Falcons got downfield thanks to Julio Jones, including a Julio-drawn pass interference penalty, but Brandon Fusco was down on the field and Ryan banged his throwing hand. Ben Garland came into the game and the Falcons had a short time to try for the end zone. Matt Ryan missed three straight times, to both Austin Hooper and Julio Jones, and new kicker Giorgio Tavecchio sent the team into halftime with a touchdown lead.

Falcons 10 - Giants 3

Third Quarter

The Giants had the ball to start the half, and despite Atlanta’s game effort, they got moving in a major way. A 50-plus yard pass against to Sherphard against Robert Alford, who both held and just missed making the tackle, put the Giants inside the red zone. A short Barkley run and an Eli Manning scramble to the two yard line later, New York was on third down. Incredibly, the Falcons defense stepped up in a major way and got the stop inside the two to keep the Giants from scoring. Unfortunately, Deadrin Senat went down and the Giants went for it on fourth down, but they failed to convert and Atlanta had the ball.

The Falcons started things off with a run that went nowhere, and followed it up with a dart to Julio Jones for a first down. They got backed into third down and Ryan was sacked, but they were saved by a huge hold on Julio Jones by Eli Apple. The Falcons again found themselves on third and long but got out of it with a 20 yard pass to Ito Smith over the middle of the field. Then Justin Hardy picked up another first down on a catch over the middle. Then Ricky Ortiz for an eight yard pickup, then Tevin Coleman for a first down. Julio then reeled in a catch and fumbled it, on review, giving New York back the ball.

Eli Manning had a million years in the pocket and threw an easy first down to Odell Beckham, with Robert Alford getting a holding penalty again that was eventually declined. Another first down followed to put New York just outside the red zone, and Manning missed on first down. He also missed on second down and third down, and the Giants were forced to settle for the field goal try. Aldrick Rosas hit the try and it was a four point game.

Falcons 10 - Giants 6

Atlanta kind needed to score to stay ahead. Their drive was one of those that goes and stops and goes, with some nice pickups by Tevin Coleman and Mohamed Sanu through the air en route to the 35 yard line, but the Falcons were stopped there, leaving Atlanta to end the third quarter without a score.

Fourth Quarter

Giorgio Tavecchio started things off with a long field goal, and nailed it. Boom.

Falcons 13 - Giants 6

The Giants wanted to get something going, and they handed the ball off to Odell Beckham in pursuit of that. Instead, they got nothing, with the Falcons doing a tremendous job of tracking New York’s playmakers and forcing them out of bounds on multiple plays. Punt.

The Falcons managed a first down thanks to Ito Smith, Ricky Ortiz, and so forth. They got another first after a pass to Julio Jones and then Calvin Ridley, and then a near first down on a catch by Marvin Hall. That was followed up by a beautiful run by Tevin Coleman, who took a pitch and cut inside to find daylight and score a long touchdown.

Falcons 20 - Giants 6

The Giants didn’t have a ton of time for a comeback, so the urgency they displayed was understandable. Atlanta was as aggressive as they had been all game, but the Giants used Barkley and actually got some movement. With repeated strikes to Odell Beckham, the Giants got in a position to run in Barkley for their first touchdown of the night. Beckham couldn’t come down with the two point conversion, though.

Falcons 20 - Giants 12

Julio Jones picked up the first down on the very first play of the subsequent drive, but the Falcons didn’t do a great job of building on that, with a Coleman toss that went nowhere and a very short pass to Calvin Ridley to bring up a third down. Fortunately, Ridley made a great effort to get the first down and keep the drive alive. The Falcons got close to a first down on a play action pass to Justin Hardy, but an Austin Hooper false start backed them up. Ito Smith picked up five again to bring it to 3rd and 1 for Atlanta. Then Ryan Schraeder got called for a false start, and the subsequent pass to Austin Hooper went for just three yards. The Falcons decided to give Giorgio Tavecchio the long field goal try and he hit the 56 yarder with relative ease, sealing the game for Atlanta.

Falcons 23 - Giants 12

The Giants found getting into the red zone pitifully easy, as Robert Alford got beat down the sideline. Fortunately, the Giants wasted a ton of time on two Eli Manning quarterback sneaks, but unfortunately, they still scored. Beckham on Alford, again, plus a two point conversion.

Falcons 23 - Giants 20

The Giants wasted too much time. The onside kick was recovered by Atlanta, and the Falcons kneeled to win it.