The Atlanta Falcons played host to the New York Giants on “Monday Night Football” to close out what was a wild Week 7 around the NFL.
Monday night’s game wasn’t always pretty, much like the action we saw on Sunday. In the end, the Falcons prevailed, winning 23-20 while improving to 3-4 on the season. With the loss, the Giants fell to 1-6.
These were the biggest winners and losers from Monday night’s game.
Winner: Matt Ryan was shredding
The Falcons couldn’t generate much of a running game, outside of some chunk plays. Despite facing some fierce pressure early on, Matt Ryan continued his red-hot streak of excellent play under center.
Though he only threw one touchdown, Ryan was dealing. He finished the game with 379 yards on 31-of-39 passing, distributing the ball to a jaw-dropping 10 different receivers.
It’s got to be tough for the Falcons and their fans right now, because if Atlanta had its defense at full strength we’re looking at a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Loser: Eli failed in the red zone
Odell Beckham Jr. did well to keep his emotions in check, because he had reason to be upset after Eli Manning failed to connect with him a few times during key moments.
The first maddening moment came at the end of the first half. After New York maneuvered into the red zone, Manning had Beckham wide open in the back right corner of the end zone and completely missed him. One play later, he took an awful sack and the Giants had to kick a field goal.
In the third quarter, after once again moving into the red zone and then running three plays that were low-percentage to begin with, Manning didn’t even see Beckham wide open in the end zone on fourth down. He tried to force a pass to Scott Simonson (who?) instead. He’s lucky it wasn’t picked off, and the Giants turned the ball over on downs.
The ESPN broadcast then showed a replay of head coach Pat Shurmur, watching the play unfold, and he was seen yelling, “Throw it to Odell!”
At the end of the night, the Giants managed two touchdowns. The first was punched in by rookie Saquon Barkley. Manning’s only touchdown came in garbage time. His overall numbers look fine, but when you look at his play when it mattered most he came up short.
Winner: OBJ and Sterling feasted in open field
The Giants moved the ball extremely well between the 20s. Manning finished the game with 399 yards passing, and 310 of that went to his dynamic receiver duo of Sterling Shepard and Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham’s numbers should have been even better, as was discussed previously. Still, he had eight catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. He also broke an NFL record along the way.
Shepard finished with five receptions for 167 yards as he and OBJ became the first Giants duo to eclipse 100 yards each since 2014.
Loser: Nate Solder
The Giants are paying Nate Solder $22 million this year. He was the best of a bad bunch of left tackles this past spring, and New York overpaid for his services because it was desperate to fix the league’s worst offensive line.
Not only has Solder not been worth the money he was paid, he’s been downright awful most of the year. On Monday night he played so poorly methinks Ereck Flowers might have done at least a comparable job, and that’s saying something.
Looking slow and lacking technique, he was beat off the edge consistently and was responsible for allowing much of the pressure that came Eli Manning’s way in this game.
Winner: Grady Jarrett was a force inside
After missing nearly a month with an ankle injury, Grady Jarrett was back in action Monday night for the Falcons, and he looked great.
The disruptive fourth-year defensive tackle out of Clemson beat Giants rookie Will Hernandez like a drum early with a wicked swim move for his first sack. He finished with two sacks, along with six tackles.
Atlanta’s defense has been decimated by injuries all year long, so it was refreshing to see one of its stars return and make such a big impact.
Loser: Giants defense with some big-time lapses
The game was all locked up at 0-0 with a handful of minutes left in the second quarter. Then Matt Ryan hit Marvin Hall down the seam for a way-too-easy 47-yard touchdown.
The person responsible for letting Hall run loose deep downfield was Janoris Jenkins. He straight-up got beat on this play, as Hall simply got behind him. There was no trickery. There was nothing special about what Hall did, and Jenkins was just beat like a drum in embarrassing fashion.
In the fourth quarter, New York was still clinging to hope in a one-score game, down 13-6. Then the defense parted like the Red Sea on a Tevin Coleman run, allowing him to romp 30 yards untouched into the end zone to essentially put the game away.
Winner: Saquon Barkley continues to amaze
What Barkley does on a weekly basis is nothing short of amazing. New York’s offensive line is a dumpster fire, both in the run game and in pass protection. Barkley routinely has to break tackles literally as he’s taking the hand-off. That certainly was the case on numerous occasions Monday night.
Barkley only carried the ball 14 times — the Giants hardly every utilize him properly — but did well to gain 43 yards and score a touchdown. He also converted a two-point conversion at the end of the game.
Where he was at his most dangerous was as an outlet receiver for Manning, who was under pressure a lot. Barkley hauled in nine catches for 51 yards and was the most reliable weapon the Giants had in the first half.
The only bummer about his night was that Barkley fell six yards short of hitting 100 total yards, which he’d done in his first six career starts.
Loser: Eli Manning’s end-of-game decision
The Giants had a chance to make a game of it at the end. With 41 seconds left on the clock, from one yards out, they could have scored and had time to hope for a miracle and a second, game-winning score after an onside kick.
Instead, Eli Manning went for two straight quarterback sneaks, both of which failed and ran valuable time off the clock. By the time he finally threw the touchdown pass to Beckham, there was just five seconds left on the clock.
That disgusting display of time-management might not have cost the Giants the game. But it absolutely cost them a shot at winning.