Stat worth noting: The Giants moved the sticks twice as many times as Atlanta. New York posted 28 first downs, while the Falcons only got 14, including a mere two on the ground.
Stat worth noting II: The Giants held the ball for close to two-thirds of the game, which is always a surefire way to give yourself a great opportunity to win the game. Big Blue had the ball for 39:38 to only 20:22 for the Falcons.
Turning point: Plaxico Burress continues making huge impacts on games. With the Giants ahead, 14-10, early in the second, Eli Manning went for it all. And who better for Manning to go to than Plax? Burress beat his man off the line of scrimmage and then ran right by the aged Lawyer Milloy for a 43-yard TD grab. That gave Burress his eighth TD of the season and extended New York’s lead to 21-10 with 8:21 to play in the first half.
Play to remember: While the game was already long since decided, it sure was nice to see Reuben Droughns break a 45-yard run down the left sideline in the closing minutes. Droughns has been nothing but professional and the perfect teammate while dealing with the disappointment of limited playing time. It was obvious when Droughns came to the sideline after the big run how happy all his teammates were for him.
Play to forget: On the first play after the Giants took a 7-3 lead, Falcons running back Jerious Norwood made the Big Blue defense look silly en route to a 67-yard touchdown run. Norwood took the ball running right, busted through the line, cut inside a defenseless Aaron Ross and outraced an engaged Sam Madison to the end zone. The run was Norwood’s longest of the season and third-longest of his career.
By the Numbers
1 – Average length in yards of Reuben Droughns’ three touchdown rushes this season.
4 – Consecutive victories for New York after an 0-2 start.
48 – Number of career TD receptions by Amani Toomer, which ties him with Kyle Rote for the all-time franchise lead.
587 – Number of career receptions by Toomer, which catapulted him past Tiki Barber and left Toomer as the Giants all-time leading receiver in franchise history.
“We got off to a fast start tonight offensively. It was good to see us get off to a better start than we’ve been.” – Giants coach Tom Coughlin
“It was a tough game and we faced a good football team. They were definitely the better team tonight.” – Falcons coach Bobby Petrino
What went right
The Giants offense had great offensive balance, with 303 passing yards and another 188 on the ground. The Giants posted 13 rushing first downs and 14 through the air.
Eli Manning did a great job of spreading the ball around, especially in the first half. New York’s big three of Amani Toomer (seven), Plaxico Burress (six) and Jeremy Shockey (five) combined for 18 catches.
New York was able to get enough pass pressure to make a difference. The Giants sacked Joey Harrington four times and hit him on two other occasions. By contrast, Eli Manning was only hit and sacked once.
Madison Hedgecock proved to be much more than just a blocker in Atlanta. Hedgecock twice caught clutch passes in the second half, bailing out an under pressure Manning each time.
After Sinorice Moss allowed himself to be stopped just inches short of the first-down marker on New York’s first possession, Demorrio Williams roughed Jeff Feagles on the ensuing punt. New York then drove the remaining 48 yards for a 7-3 lead.
What went wrong
Early in the second quarter, Eli Manning dropped back to pass on a third-and-11 from the Giants 21-yard line. He was hit as he started to pass by John Abraham, who knocked the ball loose. The original call of a Manning fumble was upheld after Tom Coughlin’s challenge attempt and the Falcons took over at the New York 28. But Big Blue’s defense held, and the Falcons came away empty after Morten Andersen was short on a 48-yard field-goal attempt.
Manning underthrew Amani Toomer late in the third quarter and the poor pass was picked off by DeAngelo Hall. Atlanta’s explosive cornerback returned the ball 33 yards before he was deliberately tripped by Jeremy Shockey, which gave the Falcons an extra 15 yards. All told, Manning coughed up the ball three times against Atlanta, with a pair of INTs and a lost fumble.
Punt returner R.W. McQuarters was never able to get into a rhythm. He only returned one punt for 10 yards and had six fair catches.
Derrick Ward proved that he was human. With the exception of his late-game nine-yard TD run, Ward carried seven times for only three yards.