EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants (0-2) had a desperately needed victory within their grasp on Sunday. For the second straight week, they were unable to close the deal, falling to the Atlanta Falcons, 24-20.
The Giants led the game, 20-10, in the offense failed numerous times in the second half to salt the game away.
"Finishing the game, getting the game done and finished the way we want it to, obviously we're struggling with that," coach Tom Coughlin said.
Eli Manning fumbled the ball away at the Atlanta 8-yard line in the third quarter with the Giants closing in on a touchdown that could have given them a 27-10 lead.
After Atlanta drove 91 yards to pull within 20-17, the Giants drove to the Atlanta 38, but failed to convert on third-and-two.
A Brad Wing punt was downed at the 2-yard line by Dwayne Harris, and the Giants defense bent but was able to stop the Falcons at the 46-yard line. Harris then returned a Falcons punt 29 yards to the Giants' 36, but the Giants quickly went three and out and punted, giving the ball to Atlanta at their 30-yard line with 3:23 to play. This time, the Giants were unable to keep Atlanta off the scoreboard.
A 37-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones with Prince Amukamara in coverage gave Atlanta the ball at the 1-yard line with 1:46 to play. The pass was originally ruled a touchdown and was overturned on replay, a ruling which actually hurt the Giants by taking time off the clock. Two rushing plays later Atlanta took a 24-20 lead on a 21-yard run by Devonta Freeman with 1:14 to play. That capped a seven-play, 70-yard drive.
The Giants took over at the 20. On their second play a pass interference on Terron Ward, covering Odell Beckham, gave the Giants the ball at the 50-yard line. Manning then threw incompletions to Larry Donnell and Jerome Cunningham. The donnell throw was just high and the Cunningham pass was a wobbler behind an open receiver.An incompletion under heavy pressure brought up fourth-and-10. A drop by Preston Parker inside the Atlanta 30-yard line ended the Giants' hopes.
Stats & Stuff
Manning finished the game 27-of-40 for 292 yards and two scores, a deceiving quarterback rating of 105.4
Odell Beckham caught seven passes for 146 yards, including a 67-yard score.
Shane Vereen caught eight passes for 76 yards.
Julio Jones of the Falcons caught 13 passes for 135 yards, tying a single-game franchise record for receptions set by Tony Gonzalez in 2012.
Devon Kennard led the Giants' defense with nine tackles. Robert Ayers and Cullen Jenkins each had sacks.
Dwayne Harris averaged 16.5 yards on four punt returns, and 38.5 yards on two kickoff returns.
The Falcons struck first with a 13-play. 86-yard drive that colminated in a 1-yard run by Tevin Coleman, taking a 7-0 lead with :34 left in the first quarter. Atlants converted three third downs during the drive.
The Giants responded with a 5:28, 10-play, 45-yard drive that resulted in a 38-yard Josh Brown field goal. It could, however, have been much more. Facing fourth-and-two at the Atlanta 15-yard line Rashad Jennings rushed up the middle for five yards, but an illegal motion penalty of Dwayne Harris nullified the play. That forced the Giants to settle for a field goal.
Atlanta moved ahead 10-3 on a 42-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 4:46 left in the half. That capped an 11-play, 56-yard drive. The Giants nearly kept Atlanta off the board, but on the final play of the drive linebacker Jonathan Casillas dropped an interception on a pass intended for Julio Jones cutting across the middle.
The Giants tied the score with 3:34 left in the half when the finally got the big pass play they have been looking for, a 67-yarder from Manning to Beckham. The play was a perfectly timed slant pass Beckham caught in stride, split Atlanta defenders and took all the way.
The Giants took a 13-10 halftime lead on a 44-yard field goal by Josh Brown with :07 left. They went 30 yards in six plays, highlighted by a 23-yard scramble by Manning and a 19-yard completion to Beckham.
The Giants extended their lead to 20-10 on their opening drive of the second half. They went 69 yards in nine plays, capping a 4:07 drive with a 10-yard pass from Manning to Larry Donnell. The key play in the drive was a 37-yard catch-and-run by Shane Vereen on a third-and-five that set the Giants up at the Falcons' 16-yard line.
The Giants then had a chance to blow the game open late in the third quarter, driving to the Atlanta 8-yard line. A touchdown would have given them a 17-point lead. Eli Manning was hit from behind, however, and fumbled. The Falcons recovered at their own 9-yard line with 4:27 left in the third quarter.
Atlanta drove 91 yards to pull within 20-17 with 12:39 remaining. Matt Ryan hit Leonard Hankerson with a 10-yard touchdown pass over the outstretched arm of Trumaine McBride. The drive was 12 plays, 91 yards and took 6:36.
The biggest play of the game may have been another Manning fumble on the ensuing Giants' possession. Facing third-and-five at the Giants' 35, Manning was stripped by Vic Beasley of the Falcons. The ball bounded forward and Giants' tight end Larry Donnell recovered at the 41-yard line, not only keeping Atlanta from recovering, but far enough upfield for a Giants' first down.
The Giants have a short week as they host the Washington Redskins on Thursday night. Game time will be 8:25 p.m., and the television broadcast will be on both CBS and NFL Network.