The New York Giants fell to the Atlanta Falcons, 17-14, but in the process, they still looked far removed from the potential of play they can muster.
Following this close-scoring battle with the Falcons, there’s plenty to take away from the Giants performance, including several key statistics that magnified new and ongoing concerns that influenced the game's outcome.
Let's take a look at some of the numbers that made a difference in this week's Giants' 17-14 loss to Atlanta.
The Giants accumulated 346 total yards over Atlanta’s 296. However, there’s a catch to this stat that paints a different picture. For starters, take a good hard look at the scoring drives the Giants had versus the scoring drives the Falcons had.
The Giants' first field goal consisted of an 11 play 73-yard drive that took 5:16; their second field goal drive began on their own 14, which included 15 plays for another 73 yards while taking 7:38.
Then there was their lone touchdown drive, which started on their own 29-yard line, and took 5:10 off the clock for the 10-play, 71-yard drive.
The Falcons scored their first touchdown in 36 seconds from the Giants 44-yard line, a drive that consisted of six plays for 44 yards.
Their second touchdown drive, which began at their 28-yard line, consisted of 15 plays and 72 yards and took 8:40 off the clock. Their game-winning field goal drive started from their 20-yard line entailed seven plays for 58 yards and took 1:50.
This encapsulates the reality that the Falcons maximized their scoring drives, time of possession, and field position to help claim a victory, despite being beaten out in total yards.
Not only did the Giants start five of their ten drives from inside their own 20-yard line when they finally scored their first touchdown. The Falcons also responded with a nearly identical drive in yards that just so happened to take 3:30 longer to complete than the Giants’ five-minute effort.
The Giants had to burn two timeouts in the second half because they failed to line up properly just before the snap.
The first instance came amid the Giants’ touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, where they had to use their first timeout on a 3rd-and-5 when they weren't lined up correctly. Though the Giants ended up converting that third down, they gave up a crucial timeout to avoid a penalty.
The second occurrence came during the Falcons touchdown drive when the Giants defense was facing a crucial 3rd-and-8 to check their alignment. What made it worse was that the Giants failed to prevent the third-down conversion.
As a result, the Giants only had one timeout at their disposal when they needed all three to defend against the Falcons' game-winning drive.
Kyle Rudolph Pass Targets
Last week, wide receiver Kadarius Toney didn't get any pass targets. This week, it was tight end Kyle Rudolph. Considering how much quarterback Daniel Jones tends to spread the ball around, along with the fact that he lost Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton to hamstring injuries early in the game, Rudolph's lack of pass targets was a head-scratcher.
What’s interesting is that the Giants acquired Rudolph for his red-zone value. Yet, he didn’t receive anything during their three red-zone appearances against Atlanta or in the previous week's loss to Washington.
In addition, Rudolph’s 29 snaps was lower than Evan Engram’s 39 with twenty-five of Rudolph's snaps coming from the inline position.
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Rudolph has strong hands and the size teams like in the red zone. Why he wasn't a factor in the red zone is a mystery.
As we saw in Week 2 against Washington, cornerback James Bradberry’s interception proved to be very clutch as that led the Giants to secure a big 35-yard field goal that put them up by two with a couple of minutes to spare. In an ideal world, that field goal would have won them the game hadn’t the Giants suffered a poor penalty in the dying minutes.
However, this week was a different story. The Giants defensive secondary had two golden opportunities to come away with momentum-shifting interceptions that could have easily helped them win this game. Instead, both were dropped and the window to capitalize on those turnovers slammed shut rather quickly.
In short, interception opportunities simply don’t grow on trees, and the Giants missed two huge chances by failing to reel in two catchable, bad throws from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
The Giants have struggled to achieve success in the red zone over these first three weeks. Offensively, the Giants rank 29th in the league in opponent red zone percentage (33.3), finishing one for three in each of their first three games.
It’s one thing if a team is making five-plus trips to the red zone per game, but it’s another if they are not. Considering that the Giants have only managed to get three red-zone chances per game so far, it’s even more important to convert red-zone trips into touchdowns.
The Giants' red-zone defense ranks 13th in the league (55.56%). Against the Falcons, the Giants defense allowed Atlanta to convert on both of their red-zone scoring opportunities, including the game tying score late in the fourth quarter.
Despite holding the Falcons to 17 points, the Giants defense hasn't done the best job of late in slamming the door when it matters the most.
Thus far this season, the Giants have allowed opponents to gain some momentum before the half by allowing scores within the final two minutes of the first half. And in the last two games, the defense has failed to hold the opponent scoreless on the game's final drive.
The Giants began Week 1 with four penalties. That number increased the following week to nine for 80 yards against the Washington Football Team, and this week, they added another eight for 53 yards against Atlanta.
This week, the Giants had two big pass interference calls, one by Rodarius Williams in the first quarter on a 3rd-and-3 and the other by Logan Ryan late in the fourth quarter on a 3rd-and-goal.
Offensively, it was even worse. First, wide receiver C.J. Board committed an offensive pass interference after completing a 15-yard reception on a third and six play for the Giants.
At the start of the second half, Barkley gathered a big 20-yard screen play pass from Jones, only for Will Hernandez to get called for an ineligible man downfield penalty that negated Barkley’s significant gain.
At the end of the day, two Giants penalties on offense resulted in stalled drives, and 37 total yards of offense were wiped off the board.
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