Falcons Come Back On Road to Win 24-20 Over Giants

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY SportsNate Stupar and Justin Durant (left) celebrate with teammates

The Atlanta Falcons once again pulled another come-from-behind fourth-quarter victory with a 24-20 win over the New York Giants to get their first road win under new head coach Dan Quinn. The Falcons once again started strong early, getting off to 10-3 lead before losing it by halftime. The Giants then took a 20-10 lead before the Falcons scored 14 points in the final quarter to pull off the comeback win.

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Tevin Coleman scored the Falcons first touchdown on Sunday

Quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons, completing 30 of 46 passes for 363 yards and a touchdown. Tevin Coleman led the team on the ground with 32 yards on nine carries with a touchdown despite exiting the game in the second quarter. Devonta Freeman also added a rushing touchdown, finishing the game with 25 yards on 12 carries. Freeman also caught four passes for 34 yards.

Julio Jones led the team with 13 receptions for 135 yards, making a spectacular 37-yard catch late in the game to set up the go-ahead touchdown. Leonard Hankerson caught Ryan’s lone touchdown pass, finishing the game with six catches for 77 yards. Tight end Jacob Tamme also had 77 yards as well with four receptions.

Matt Bryant nailed his lone field-goal try of 42 yards. Matt Bosher punted five times for an average of 54.6 yards, with one inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems returned one kickoff for 21 yards and one punt for 10 yards.

The Falcons offense produced 402 total yards and were able to convert 11 of 17 (65 percent) third-down attempts. The Falcons were super-efficient in the red zone, converting all three of their trips for touchdowns.

Defensively, the Falcons held the Giants to 388 total yards with 291 coming in the air. The Giants converted 10 of 17 (59 percent) third-down attempts, but were one for four in the red zone when trying to convert touchdowns. The Giants had a turnover as well that the Falcons were able to turn into seven points.

Justin Durant led the team with 10 tackles, including one for loss and also added a pass deflection. Phillip Adams (seven tackles), Robert Alford (four tackles, one pass defended), Ricardo Allen (three tackles), Jonathan Babineaux (six tackles, one tackle for loss), Vic Beasley (five tackles, one sack, one forced fumble), Kroy Biermann (three tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, one forced fumble), Tyson Jackson (five tackles, one tackle for loss), William Moore (eight tackles, one pass deflection), O’Brien Schofield (three tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit), Nate Stupar (five tackles) and Paul Worrilow (three tackles) all had noteworthy games.

The Falcons received the opening kick and immediately dialed up their best playmaker on the opening play from scrimmage, attempting a screen to Julio Jones that went for just two yards. On the next play, Prince Amukamara broke up a pass to Roddy White, which marked his first and last target of the game. But on 3rd-and-8, Tamme converted on an eight-yard snag to give the Falcons a fresh set of downs. Jones converted another third down on a nine-yard slant three plays later. That was followed up two plays later by a 10-yard conversion on second down by Hankerson on another slant to put the ball into Giants territory. On the very next play, the Falcons attempted a play-action fake to Tamme, but the tight end slipped and Ryan’s pass was incomplete. Two plays later on third down, Giants defensive end Robert Ayers tipped a pass to Freeman in the flat for an incompletion and the Falcons were forced to punt.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning hit his first pass on a seven-yard slant to Odell Beckham Jr. on the Giants’ second play from scrimmage to get a first down. Rashad Jennings then got his second carry of the series, taking a draw play up the middle for five yards. But on the next play, Babineaux blew him up in the backfield for a four-yard loss to push the Giants back to 3rd-and-9. But Manning hit Beckham again for a 10-yard gain to convert the third down. Justin Durant and Beasley got a stop on Shane Vereen in the backfield on a stretch play later in the series. Vereen then slipped on a throw in the flat, limiting his gain to just two yards to set up a 3rd-and-11 near midfield. Moore broke up Manning’s third-down pass to Jerome Cunningham, forcing a Giants punt.

Giants defensive end George Selvie pressured Ryan to force an incomplete pass to Levine Toilolo on first down of the ensuing Falcons series. The Falcons ran a pair of runs to Coleman, who gained a combined 15 yards, including a six-yard gain on a 3rd-and-1. Jones shook Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie after the catch for a 12-yard gain on the next play. A play-action pass to Patrick DiMarco over the middle went for 19 yards to put the ball in Giants territory. Jones then gained 13 yards on a quick screen into the flat before Hankerson dropped a similar play on the next down. On third down, pressure forced Ryan to step up in the pocket but the Falcons quarterback was able to find an open Tamme over the middle for a 13-yard gain to put the ball in the red zone. Pressure from Giants linebacker Devon Kennard forced Ryan to under threw Coleman in the flat two plays later, setting up a 3rd-and-8 from the Giants’ 12-yard line. Hankerson won a slant over the middle for a 12-yard touchdown but upon further review, he was marked down six inches shy of the goal line. Coleman finished the drive with a one-yard score to put the first score of the game on the scoreboard, allowing the Falcons to take a 7-0 lead with less than a minute left in the first quarter.

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Odell Beckham catches one of his seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in front of Phillip Adams on Sunday

Dwayne Harris managed to give the Giants favorable field position to start their next drive with a 41-yard kickoff return. On the opening play of the second quarter, Manning’s deep throw to Beckham was overthrown along the sideline. But Beckham responded with a 10-yard gain on the ensuing 3rd-and-9 to give the Giants a new set of downs near midfield. Moore then blasted Giants running back Andre Williams on a two-yard run up the middle. Two plays later on 3rd-and-5, the Giants went to their favored playmaker with Beckham beating Phillip Adams down the field for a 26-yard gain to put the ball deep in Falcons territory. But the Falcons defense tightened up thereafter. O’Brien Schofield strung out a run by Vereen, leading to a six-yard loss which was followed two plays later by Worrilow tackling a scrambling Manning in the open field a few yards shy of the sticks on third down. The Giants opt to go for it on 4th-and-2 at the Falcons’ 15-yard line and Jennings converted on a four-yard run up the middle, but the Giants were penalized. Harris was flagged for illegal motion, forcing the Giants to settle for a field goal instead. Josh Brown kicked the 38-yard field goal to cut Atlanta’s lead to 7-3 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter.

On second down of the ensuing Falcons series, Hankerson snagged a nine-yard catch over the middle to set up a 3rd-and-1. The Falcons converted on a throw to Freeman in the flat, gaining them six yards after bouncing off a hit from Giants safety Brandon Meriweather. The Falcons then dialed up Tamme for a 15-yard play, followed up by a seven-yard run by Freeman to get the ball into Giants territory. But then on the next play, Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins blew up Freeman for no gain. Defensive holding on Trumaine McBride gave the Falcons a new set up downs on third down. Coleman then gained 11 yards up the middle on the next play, but was tripped by Rodgers-Cromartie on his next carry for no gain. That play prompted Coleman’s exit from the game with a rib injury. On 3rd-and-7, Ryan’s pass to Jones was nearly picked off by Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas, forcing the Falcons to settle for a 47-yard field goal. Bryant nailed the kick, giving the Falcons a 10-3 lead with 4:46 left in the first half.

Manning’s first pass to Beckham was in the dirt due to pressure by Biermann on the rollout. Two plays later, Moore missed a tackle on Vereen in the flat, allowing the Giants to convert a 3rd-and-5 with an eight-yard gain. On the very next play, Allen was out of position on a quick slant to Beckham, who ran untouched 67 yards for a touchdown. The Giants had tied the game 10-10 with little more than three minutes left in the half.

The Falcons responded with a three-and-out, thanks to a pair of drops by Freeman and Hankerson on second and third down. The Giants took over at their 25-yard line with 2:28 left in the half.

Vereen was tripped up by Beasley for a two-yard gain to start the Giants’ next series. That was followed by Babineaux making a nice tackle in pursuit on a screen to Vereen, limiting his gain to just one yard as the two-minute earning hit. But Beckham once again beat Alford, making the Falcons corner miss on a tackle after the catch to gain 19 yards and put the ball near midfield. However the Giants failed to get much yardage any further and were forced to punt it back to the Falcons with 1:25 left in the half.

The Falcons did little with their last possession of the first half with another three-and-out thanks to Ayers tipping Ryan’s third-down pass to Hankerson at the line of scrimmage. Kemal Ishmael was flagged for holding on Bosher’s punt, gifting the Giants good field position at their 44-yard line with 58 seconds left in the half.

Manning hit on his first two passes for a pair of six-yard gains by Vereen and tight end Larry Donnell, respectively, before the Giants burned their second timeout with 47 seconds left. Manning’s next pass to Beckham down the field was incomplete with Alford forcing the second-year receiver out of bounds. After a 10-yard screen pass to Vereen, Manning found daylight on a scramble up the middle for 18 yards to get the ball down to the Falcons’ 16-yard line. The Giants then used their final timeout of the half with 13 seconds left. Beasley was able to create pressure, beating left tackle Ereck Flowers, who was flagged for a holding penalty pushing the Giants back 10 yards. Brown came out onto the field for another field goal attempt, this time from 44 yards and made the kick to close out the half. At the midpoint, the Giants held a 13-10 lead.

The Giants got the ball to start the second half and dialed up Jennings on their first three plays as he was eventually able to convert a 3rd-and-1 on a two-yard run up the middle. But then Jennings was stuffed by Tyson Jackson and Stupar on the next play for a two-yard loss. On 3rd-and-5, Vereen made both Worrilow and Allen miss on a short throw from Manning, turning it from a small gain into a 37-yard play to put the ball in the red zone. Manning tried to go to Donnell in the back of the end zone two plays later, but the Giants tight end slipped in front of Moore, who got away with pass interference. But Donnell redeemed himself on the next play, beating Alford for a 10-yard score to push New York’s lead to 20-10 with less than 11 minutes to go in the third quarter.

Kennard and Meriweather were on hand to blow up a run to Freeman for no gain on the first play of the Falcons opening possession of the second half. Then Cullen Jenkins burst upfield to sack Ryan for a six-yard loss, setting up a 3rd-and-16. Ryan threw a check down to Terron Ward that went for nine yards and the Falcons had another three-and-out followed by a punt. Harris returned Bosher’s 69-yard boot 26 yards to set New York up at their 34-yard line.

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Kroy Biermann strips Eli Manning for Falcons’ sole turnover

Andre Williams then burst up the middle for a 35-yard gain on the opening play, putting the ball deep into Falcons territory. But the Falcons responded with two stops to set up a 3rd-and-7, which the Giants converted on a 12-yard run by Vereen on a draw play. Two plays later, Preston Parker snagged a six-yard catch to set up a 3rd-and-2 at the Falcons’ eight-yard line. But Biermann showed up big, chasing down a scrambling Manning from behind and stripping him on the sack. Paul Soliai fell on the loose ball and the Falcons took over at their nine-yard line with 4:15 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons dialed up their play-action passing immediately as Ryan hit Tamme deep for a 41-yard gain on first down to put the ball at midfield and flip field position quickly. After two runs by Freeman set up a 3rd-and-6, Ryan hit Jones on a quick slant to convert on a 10-yard gain with the ball now in Giants territory. Nick Williams got a good gain after the catch for a 12-yard gain to give the Falcons a first down as the third quarter came to a close with the ball at the Giants’ 17-yard line. The Falcons went to Freeman on three straight runs and he gained 10 yards, including a one-yard conversion on 3rd-and-1. On Freeman’s fourth run, he broke a tackle from Giants safety Landon Collins for a 11-yard score but the play was nullified by a holding call on Tamme. The Falcons went right back to Freeman for an 11-yard gain on a screen pass to get that lost yardage back. With the ball back at the Giants’ 10-yard line, Meriweather deflected a slant to Jones at the line of scrimmage, setting up a 3rd-and-9. On third down, Hankerson high-pointed a throw into the end zone, giving the Falcons a touchdown and cutting the Giants’ lead to 20-17 with 12:39 left in the game.

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Leonard Hankerson snags a key fourth-quarter touchdown.

On 3rd-and-5 on the ensuing Giants series, Beasley was able to beat Justin Pugh, who was replacing Flowers at left tackle, stripping Manning from behind but Donnell was able to fall on the loose ball ahead of the sticks to give the Giants a first down. The Giants quickly ran a play on a run to Vereen for two yards, preventing the Falcons from challenging whether it was truly a fumble or an incomplete pass. Four plays later, the Falcons burned a timeout to set up a 3rd-and-2 at their 38-yard line. The timeout worked as Biermann helped stuff Jennings’ run up the middle for a one-yard loss and forced a Giants punt. However, Harris downed it at the two-yard line with eight minutes to go in the game.

Jones made a spectacular catch over the middle for 18 yards, essentially preventing an interception on a bad pass and also making a big gain. Three plays later, Ryan stepped up in the pocket and found an open Hankerson over the middle for a 20-yard gain. But Ayers was unblocked on the next play, sacking Ryan for an 11-yard loss. Jones gained 17 yards of it back on a 2nd-and-21 to set up a more manageable 3rd-and-4. But Meriweather broke up Ryan’s throw to Tamme over the middle and the Falcons were forced to punt . Harris’ 29-yard return gave the Giants the ball back with 4:24 left in the game at their 36-yard line.

The Falcons stuffed Williams’ run up the middle for one yard to start the drive. Biermann went for the strip on Donnell in the flat, but the tight end was able to shake him off for a two-yard gain to set up a 3rd-and-7 as the Falcons burned their second timeout of the half with 3:27 left in the game. A delay of game penalty on the Giants pushed them back to 3rd-and-12, which they failed to convert on a screen thanks to Durant making an excellent hit on wide receiver Geremy Davis after five yards. The Falcons used their final timeout and the Giants punted it back to them with 3:12 left in the game.

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Julio Jones makes a diving grab for 38 yards to set up a touchdown.

At their 30-yard line, the Falcons dialed up Freeman on first down for an 11-yard gain on a slant in traffic. Ryan then dodged pressure and delivered on a four-yard pass to Jones. Ryan’s next pass to Freeman was broken up by trailing Giants linebacker Uani’ Unga to set up 3rd-and-6 at the Falcons’ 45-yard line with 2:01 left in the game. Ryan hit Hankerson on a quick out, but he wasn’t touched down by rookie safety Collins, getting up to gain more yards after the catch for a big 17-yard play. With the two-minute warning bitt, Ryan then dialed up a deep shot to Jones, who raced past Amukamara to make a diving 38-yard grab in the end zone. However upon further review, Jones’ need hit down at the one-yard line before he crossed the plane, setting up the Falcons with 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line with 1:32 left in the game. Freeman was stuffed for a loss of one yard on the next play before scoring on a two-yard gain on the next play. It wasn’t clear if Freeman had successfully reached the ball across the goal line upon the replay, but there was no clear angle to overturn the call on the field and the touchdown stood. The Falcons took a 24-20 lad with 1:14 left in the game.

Manning’s first pass to Beckham was high and tipped off the receivers’ hands. Manning attempted a deep shot to Beckham down the sideline, drawing a flag from Alford to give the Giants the ball at the 50-yard line. Alford nearly redeemed himself, almost picking off a tipped ball by Donnell on another high throw by Manning. With 57 seconds left, Adrian Clayborn got pressure on Manning, who missed on a throw to Cunningham. Then Schofield dialed up his pressure, hitting Manning and causing another incomplete pass to Parker on third down, with Manning throwing it away to avoid the sack. Initially a flag for intentional grounding was called, but it was picked up. Unfortunately for the Giants, guard Geoff Schwartz was still flagged for illegal touching. On 4th-and-10 with 44 seconds left, Durant tipped Manning’s pass to Parker and the Falcons took over with 35 seconds left at midfield.

Ryan and the Falcons knelt on the ball once in victory formation and the game was over.

Quinn’s tenure as Falcons head coach now begins at 2-0 with two tight wins against NFC East opponents. The Falcons will face their third consecutive NFC East opponent next week when they are once again on the road game against the Dallas Cowboys. The lat time the Falcons faced the Cowboys, resulted in a 19-13 win in the Georgia Dome back in 2012. Their last road game against the Cowboys was a 37-21 loss in 2009, which marked the team’s lone visit to what is now known as AT&T Stadium.

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Aaron Freeman
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