Overall Grade: B
An uneven effort against a struggling defense, but 30 points is still 30 points. 9-15 (60%) on third down and 3-4 in the red zone. Not bad. The play of rookies Beckham, Williams and Richburg are an encouraging sign, especially this early in the season. The bottom line is that they walked out of MetLife with a win. They're not all going to be masterpieces.
The Giants started the game with the same five players on the offensive line for the fifth consecutive game: LT Will Beatty, LG Weston Richburg, C JD Walton, RG John Jerry and RT Justin Pugh. All five played every snap. They began with a three WR set: Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Preston Parker. Rashad Jennings was the RB, Larry Donnell the TE and - as always - Eli Manning was under center.
The Giants were 18th in overall offense and had scored 30 and 45 points in their last two contests. Manning had found his niche in the new offense and his accuracy increased greatly since the first game. TE Larry Donnell has emerged as a force, the rushing attack had taken on a downhill approach and the WRs were finally getting Odell Beckham, Jr. into the fold.
The Falcons' defense entered the game ranked 31st in the NFL total defense, surrendering and average of 429 yards per game and were missing their starting strong safety, William Moore, who is out with a shoulder injury. They also had recorded just three sacks in the first four games and were allowing an average of 153 yards on the ground. In short, they were a sieve.
The Falcons came out and played a gritty first half, while the Giants seemed sluggish. Despite Rashad Jennings' 5.2 YPC and Eli's 10-for-15 passing, the Giants were down, 13-10 at the break. The Falcons scored first in the second half to run the score to 20-10 before the Giants grabbed ahold of things and scored the game's final 20 points en route to a 30-20 victory. Here's our report card:
Quarterback: Eli was very good again (19-30, 200 yds, 2 TD, 1 sack, 104.9 QBR, no turnovers), but missed on a big play by throwing away a pass in the direction of a wide open Beckham that would have been an 80-yard TD play. Wasn't his best game, but good enough to win.
Running Back: Only gained 124 yards against the leaky Falcon front seven, but much of that could be attributed to the early exit of Rashad Jennings (10 rushes, 55 yards; 2 rec, 17 yards), who left the game with a strained knee. Rookie Andre Williams (20 rushes, 65 yards, 1 TD, 2 rec, 18 yards) was then featured and he displayed how nasty he can be on defenses by barreling into the Atlanta line like a battering ram. Let's say he opened some eyes with his physicality. Even though the unit performed below expectations, they get good grades this week because of the way Williams allowed them to eat some clock in the second half after they went ahead.
Tight End: Larry Donnell was held without a catch in this game and mysteriously targeted only once. The targets were going to the wideouts in hopes of exploiting some mismatches. There is only one football, folks, but it appeared as if the Falcons prepared for Donnell and Eli didn't try to force the ball to him.
Wide Reciever: Beckham's presence raised the level of play for sure. You could see how well he moves on the field and the opportunities he is going to create for the offense. That being said, the ball is getting spread around more and Victor Cruz (3 catches for 22 yards on 6 targets) could be the guy that sees less passes. The Giants are forcing the ball to Rueben Randle in a effort for him to excel albeit kicking and screaming. Randle should be creating mismatches vs smaller corners, but continues to be inconsistent. He caught only four of his 10 targets for 33 yards but did have an 18-yard TD grab.
Offensive Line: They stunk again (kidding). Only allowed one sack and battled in the running game. They seem to be getting better each week, however, putting to bed the early perception of them as a lousy group. Who would have thought that John Jerry would play this well? Richburg and Walton are improving incrementally and the tackles, Beatty and Pugh, are also logging in some good work. Not hearing Geoff Schwartz' name so much anymore. He'll play when he returns in Week 9, but the Giants may not be in a hurry anymore to rush him back.
Placekicking: Josh Brown had 12 points. 3-3 on FGA with hits from 50, 49 and 26 yards. A true pro.