The New York Giants are now 0-2.
The Giants stormed out to a lead in the second quarter, and seemed primed to walk away with the game in the middle of the third quarter. But then mental mistakes and injuries took their toll as the Giants squandered their second 10-point fourth quarter lead in two weeks. Like every game, the flow of the game hinged on several plays. And as with the week before, the Giants won some of those moments, but lost too many.
Play 1 - Game Changing Fumbles
After Eli Manning lead the offense down the field, finishing with a touchdown pass to Larry Donnell, the Giants were up by 10 points, and the energy on the defensive side of the ball was palpable. With Matt Ryan under assault from the Giants' defense, the Falcons quickly punted the ball back to the Giants' offense. Eli got the ball back and promptly picked up where he left off, and marched the Giants down the field to the door of the Falcons' end zone.
On third down from the Falcons' 8-yard line, Eli Manning rolled out to his left, looking to stick the dagger. Unfortunately, Eli took too long -- and Marshall Newhouse barely slowed down his rusher -- and Eli was sacked and lost the ball.
That sack-fumble in the red-zone was only the second of Eli Manning's career, but it directly lead to a touchdown as the Falcons pulled within three points at the start of the fourth quarter.
A fumble by Eli Manning changed the flow of the game later in the 4th quarter when rookie pass rusher Vic Beasley caused Eli to fumble the ball forward, across the 1st down marker. Though there may have been some question as to whether or not it was really a fumble, Larry Donnell recovered and Eli rushed the Giants to the line and snapped the ball to prevent a challenge by Atlanta.
Play 2 - Drops Galore
Eli Manning was victimized byfive dropped passes in the first game of the season. Three of them were drive killers that bounced off the hands of Preston Parker.
In Week 2, the final pass of the game fell to the ground, the fifth ball to ricochet off Parker's hands in the first two games. Had Parker caught the ball it would have been a fourth-down conversion as the Giants desperately tried to drive down the field for a come-from behind victory.
Parker wasn't alone. Every receiver not named "Odell Beckham" or "Shane Vereen" had difficulty holding on to the ball. Rueben Randle, Larry Donnell, and Jerome Cunningham all had the ball slip through their fingers over the course of the game.
In the wake of the Giants' Week 1 loss, Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo were questioned about whether they would give Preston Parker another chance. They insisted that Parker would rebound in week 2. Instead the ball fell to the ground as the Giants fall to 0-2.
Play 3 - Odell Beckham
Chronologically, this was the first game-changing play of the game. But in terms of importance, it ranks third.
When the Giants get Beckham the ball, good things happen. The Giants learned this early on in 2014 when Beckham's presence paid immediate dividends against the Atlanta Falcons.
Some people began to question Beckham's will and ability after a slow preseason and first week. With 3:19 left in the second quarter, Manning and Beckham reminded the world what they can do together. With the Giants behind by seven points, and the team stagnating, Manning hit Beckham in stride on a slant pass and let the magic happen.
That play proved to be a spark for both the Giants offense and defense as Eli lead the team down the field two more times for 13 unanswered points and a 10 point lead going into the 4th quarter.
Play 4 - Missed Interceptions
In the Giants' Week 1 game against Dallas, they knocked the ball loose four times, coming up with three turnovers, two of them interceptions.
In the Giants' second game, they had their chances to generate turnovers as well. Jonathan Casillas and Landon Collins both had their hands on bouncing balls but failed to come up with the turnover. However the missed opportunity that truly changed the game came in the fourth quarter. With the Giants bringing pressure, Matt Ryan heaved an ill-advised pass deep to Julio Jones in double coverage. While it looked like either Prince Amukamara or Brandon Meriweather was in position for an interception, Jones was able to snatch the ball out of the air and come down with it for a big play. That drive ended in a punt, but with the Falcons gaining momentum, a big takeaway by the Giants defense would have changed the entire tone of the fourth quarter.