Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Five plays that shaped the game
By Matt Winkeljohn | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
ATLANTA -- None of the five key plays in the Giants' 34-0 loss Sunday to the Falcons worked out for the visitors. The bad news came quickly in the Georgia Dome.
1. The Pick (I): On Eli Manning's first pass (on the second play of the game), Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (6-feet-2, 244 pounds) came on a blitz from the Giants' right side. New York rookie running back David Wilson (5-9, 205) tried to protect, but Weatherspoon flattened him to rush Manning. The throw wasn't fantastic, either, and the short out to the right side was jumped by Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel. He slipped in front of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, tipped the ball, bobbled it at least twice, secured it and returned six yards to the Giants' 16-yard-line. Four plays later, the Falcons led 7-0 on a 1-yard run by Michael Turner behind right guard.
2. Wide Left: The Giants countered by going 68 yards in their next eight plays. Then, on fourth-and-3 from the Atlanta 12, Lawrence Tynes was called upon to kick a 30-yard field goal. He missed, wide left. This play was big because it was a clear sign of bad mojo. Tynes was 33-for-38 on field goals before that. It was his shortest miss of the season following misses from 54, 40 (blocked), 51, 43 and then 36 last week against New Orleans. He made his first 10 this season, but has missed one in three straight games. Atlanta next drove to a 14-0 lead on Matt Ryan's 12-yard TD pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez.
3. The Pick (II): Trailing 14-0 in the second quarter, the Giants forced an Atlanta punt, but on their second offensive play, Manning was picked again. This time, Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud stepped in front of Nicks. A 5-yard return to the Giants' 27 set up Atlanta for what would become a 38-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. That was good for a 17-0 lead with 10:22 left in the first half.
4. Driving With No Points (I): The Giants drove 48 yards to the Atlanta 32 -- 40 of those yards coming on the ground -- after the Bryant field goal, but on fourth-and-1 Weatherspoon stuffed Wilson. No points scored.
5. Driving With No Points (II): New York's defense held again, helped by Chris Canty's sack of Ryan. But after driving 79 yards to the Falcons' 11-yard-line, the Giants were foiled again on fourth down. After a timeout, with two yards to go, Manning's pass right to Victor Cruz fell incomplete with 1:10 left in the half. Two trips into the red zone for the Giants, no points. The Falcons ran out the clock.