The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter tells CineSport’s Brian Clark how the Falcons scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Giants 24-20 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Falcons needed two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull out the 24-20 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday in MetLife Stadium.
Linebacker Kroy Biermann, who’s been much-maligned on local sports radio, came up with the big play to fuel the rally. His sack-strip of Eli Manning stopped the bleeding and kept the Falcons from getting blown out.
That’s all the room Matt Ryan needed to get the offense back on track and close out the game strong.
Here are the grades from the win.
Game balls: Kroy Biermann and Julio Jones. If Biermann doesn’t get the sack-strip, the Falcons are likely down 17 and ready to board the charter. Why the Giants left Jones in one-on-one coverage will be one of the great mysteries of the early season. He has 22 catches for 276 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Quarterbacks, B-plus. Matt Ryan completed 30 of 46 passes for 363 yards and one touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 96.6. Ryan was 8-of-13 for 145 yards and one touchdown in the fourth quarter. His best ball was his 46th attempt. He lofted a nice spiral out to Jones, who attacked the ball and came down with a 37-yard reception over Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara. In all, seven receivers caught passes and 10 were targeted.
Running backs, F. Tevin Coleman had nine rushes for 32 yards before leaving the game with a rib injury. Devonta Freeman had 12 carries for 25 yards. Both backs had one rushing touchdown. The team was hopeful that Coleman’s injury was not too serious, but players don’t usually leave the game on a cart unless it’s a pretty serious injury. Freeman caught four passes for 34 yards. The Falcons might as well kick the tires on Montee Ball this week.
Wide receivers/tight ends, A-plus. Jones turned in an awesome showing with 13 catches for 135 yards. Hankerson had 11 targets and caught six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Roddy White was only targeted once and didn’t have a catch. Tight end Jacob Tamme had four catches for 77 yards, including a big 41-yard gain after Biermann’s turnover to jumpstart the offense. Tamme showed some moves on the run after the catch.
Offensive line, C-plus. The unit didn’t open up many holes in the run game. The Falcons averaged a horrid 2.5 yards per carry. That won’t be good enough to make linebackers honor all of the play-action fakes. Ryan was sacked twice on 48 dropbacks. The line held up in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. Newly signed Jake Long was inactive.
Defensive line, B. Defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson played much more than the 14 and 16 snaps they saw against the Eagles. They helped to slow down the Giant running backs, who had 21 carries for 74 yards (3.5 yards per carry). Jonathan Babineaux had six tackles including one for a loss. Vic Beasley had five tackles and his first NFL sack. Jackson added five tackles. The Falcons had two sacks and four quarterback hits.
Linebackers, B. With Paul Worrilow slowed by a calf injury, Justin Durant led the Falcons with 10 tackles. Worrilow was replace by Allen Bradford, but he returned to the game. He finished with three tackles.
Defensive backs, C. It was a rough day for the secondary, which gave up 292 yards passing, including a 67-yard touchdown catch-and-run by New York wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Rookie Robenson Therezie replaced Ricardo Allen at free safety and finished the game there. Allen had to settle down and had a case of the cramps. He said the team had to make some adjustments after he missed the tackle on Beckham. Robert Alford didn’t have a good outing, but he kept battling. Nickel back Phillips Adams had seven tackles.
Special teams, B. Punter Matt Bosher averaged 54.6 yards on five punts, but had a net average of 37.4. Matt Bryant made a 42-yard field goal. Eric Weems had a 21-yard kickoff return and 10 yards on a punt return. The coverage team gave up a 29-yard punt return and 41-yard kickoff return to Dwayne Harris, an Atlanta native who played at Tucker High and East Carolina.
Coaching, B. After the Falcons sputtered down the stretch in a meaningless exhibition season loss to the Miami Dolphins, coach Dan Quinn was livid. He promised that the Falcons would finish games. On Sunday, they finished the game against the Giants with key plays from Biermann, Tamme, Ryan and Jones. The team finished. Why the Falcons didn’t match cornerback Desmond Trufant on Beckham was a coaching mystery. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan did a fabulous job considering the team didn’t have a rushing attack for three quarters of the game.
Next up: Falcons (2-0) play at the Dallas Cowboys (2-0) at 1 p.m. on Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
GIANTS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 24, Giants 20
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EAGLES GAME COVERAGE — FALCONS 26, EAGLES 24
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