It was one of the uglier wins that the Atlanta Falcons will endure but, it is a win, nonetheless. The Falcons pulled out a 17-14 win against the New York Giants behind a Younghoe Koo field goal as time expired. This win marks the first in the Arthur Smith era. However, it had little to do with Smith’s offense. The offense did score at moments so that the team had a chance to win the game. But in the end, it was the Falcons defense, yes, the defense, that stole the show for this Falcons victory. The Falcons ultimately survive behind capitalizing on opportunities vs. the Giants.
Falcons Survive vs. Giants After Capitalizing on Key Opportunities
Key #1: Giants Self-Inflicted Wounds
The Giants ended the day with eight penalties for 53 yards. Even worse, they happened in the more crucial moments in the game. One of which was a Saquon Barkley screen pass in the middle of the third quarter. Daniel Jones hits Barkley for a 20-yard completion that would have put the Giants at the Falcons 36. Sixteen yards out of the red zone and ready to start their march. Instead, they find themselves back on their 39-yard line and having to lick their wounds. This drive ultimately ended up in a punt after achieving one first down.
Another self-inflicted wound happened on the defensive side for the Giants. The Falcons had almost given the ball away to Adoree Jackson and the Giants defense with a rushed overthrow on second and goal. On third down, they were driving to tie the game with 5:01 left to play. Kyle Pitts ran an inside route away from Jabrill Peppers and passed defensive back Logan Ryan. Ryan has already stopped two other drives with key pass breakups to get the Falcons off the field. Instead, Matt Ryan throws it up to Pitts and Logan Ryan has no other option but to commit a defensive pass interference to stop the much bigger Pitts. Two plays later, Lee Smith releases and catches the game-tying touchdown with 4:13 left in the game.
Key #2: Key Stops at Key Moments
The Falcons defense behind Dean Pees proved one key fact about themselves against the Giants Sunday: This is a bend but do not break defense. Jones was 11/17 for 153 yards. The running game had 58 yards on 13 carries, 4.5 yards/carry in the first half. The Giants took up 12 minutes and 54 seconds for their two first-half scoring drives and only had six points to show for it. It is not ideal for a defensive unit to be on the field for that long, but if they can force field goals instead of touchdowns, it keeps the team in the game. And that is what happened in the Big Apple today.
The Falcons defense even gave the offense the ball back right before halftime with a chance to score a second time after their initial touchdown drive. Unfortunately, the offense could not capitalize on that opportunity, but it shows what this defense is capable of this season. The Giants offense gained 346 yards offensively and only had14 points to show for it. That is the definition of an opportunistic defense. Dean Pees should be proud of the way that his defense showed up on Sunday.
This win is ugly in every sense of the word. Matt Ryan did end up throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns. But that does not outline the struggles that the passing offense dealt with all day. Cordarrelle Patterson shows again that he is a grown man with 20 yards on the ground, 82 in the air, and special teams contributions such as a downed point at the four yard-line. Ultimately, it was a struggle watching this Falcons offense try to move down the field for much of the game. But, a win is a win, no matter how it looks. That fact should give this Atlanta team, at least, a tiny bit of momentum towards the next game. Hopefully, the Falcons do more than just survive and continue capitalizing on their opportunities against the Washington Football Team.
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