EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A coin flip saved the Giants' season. It really is that simple. As the two…
Game Story: Giants 34, Falcons 31 (OT)
Stat worth noting: Eli Manning threw for 384 yards and three TDs – and it was barely enough.
Stat worth noting II: The two teams combined for more than 800 total yards; there wasn't a whole lot in the way of defense in this one.
Turning point: Matt Ryan and the Falcons were looking to grab the lead when they took the ball late in the first half, trailing 10-7. They only made it three plays until New York's defense turned in one of the game's biggest plays. Ryan dropped back to pass, but before he could unload the ball, Justin Tuck sacked him for a four-yard loss, forcing a fumble in the process. Osi Umenyiora recovered the loose ball at the Atlanta 34-yard line. Six plays later the Giants were in the end zone via a 4-yard Kevin Boss TD grab, giving them a 17-7 halftime lead. They'd need every bit of that lead before escaping in overtime.
Play to remember: In a game of several beautiful throws and catches from Eli Manning and his receivers, none was prettier than the sideline grab Mario Manningham made to help set up the first points of the game. Manningham somehow got both feet down in bounds for a key catch with Falcons CB Chris Houston in perfect coverage.
Play to forget: The Giants offense certainly didn't start out the way they had hoped. New York's first drive ended prematurely when Eli Manning threw an especially bad interception. Manning was looking for Steve Smith around midfield, but Falcons CB Brent Grimes jumped the coverage and easily picked off Manning, returning the ball nine yards into Giants territory.
What went right
Eli Manning topped the 300-yard mark at home for the first time in his career. Inexplicably all of his previous eight 300-yard efforts have come on the road. Not so against Atlanta at Giants Stadium, as Manning carved up the Falcons defense to the tune of 384 yards.
While 60 percent is hardly all that impressive, for the Giants it's darn-near perfect. In five trips into the Green Zone, Big Blue's offense came away with three touchdowns and a field goal.
The Giants won the coin toss before overtime. You just couldn't imagine how the defense would have stopped Atlanta had the Falcons won the toss. Be honest.
Kevin Boss had, by far, his best game of the season. He scored a couple touchdowns among his five catches for 76 yards.
Jason Elam contributed to New York's cause when he missed a 35-yard field goal late in the first half. Elam appeared to misstep a bit before attempting his kick, which sailed wide left.
What went wrong
The Giants coughed up a 14-point, fourth-quarter leader. One game after allowing the Chargers to drive for the game-winning TD in the game's waning moments, the defense was even worse with the game on the line. Matt Ryan picked New York's secondary apart, throwing for 268 yards and a pair of scores.
New York's red-zone defense, which has struggled all season long, allowed the Falcons to score four TDs in six trips inside the New York 20. Even one stop there and the Giants don't need OT to win this one.
Eight penalties for 64 yards was hardly what the doctor – or Tom Coughlin – ordered. New York continually negated solid plays with silly penalties. The generous Giants gave Atlanta four first downs via penalty flags.
Lawrence Tynes pulled his second field goal try wide left, preventing the Giants from cutting into Atlanta's 7-3 lead. Once again, New York's kicker proved his critics right by missing what amounted to a chip shot – a 31-yarder – wide left. However, thankfully for the Giants and their fans, Tynes got the game's last laugh.
13 – Game-high number of tackles for former Falcon Michael Boley, who was clearly on a mission in this game
36 – Distance in yards of Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal in overtime
111.5 – Eli Manning's QB rating. After an early interception, Manning was nearly flawless the rest of the game
"It's nice to win, we were miserable around here for a month, it's nice to win." – Giants Coach Tom Coughlin
"We gave up a lot of passing yards. That's very obvious. Way too many passing yards and again, it's team defense, it's not just the secondary." – Falcons Coach Mike Smith
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