Sunday, December 16, 2012
Drive of the Game: Giants go for it on fourth
By Matt Winkeljohn
Trying to pick the drive of the game from the rubble of the Giants' 34-0 loss Sunday to the Falcons is a bit like sifting wheat germ with the idea that a flake of gold might turn up when you just know there's no gold in there.
The closest approximation for New York came in the second quarter, when the Giants set up shop at their 10-yard-line courtesy of a holding call against Justin Tryon, as Atlanta punted into the end zone.
New York already trailed 17-0, but a field goal or touchdown as halftime approached would've pulled the Giants within two scores.
With 3:42 remaining in the half, Eli Manning found wide receiver Domenik Hixon for nine yards, and then after an incomplete pass connected with Hakeem Nicks for 24 yards over the middle.
Here, the Giants burned their first timeout, with 2:52 to go.
The Giants' D gave up a 40-yard touchdown catch to Julio Jones to start the second half and put the game out of reach.
Hixon then took a short pass to the right side and turned it into a 37-yard gain down the sideline, and it looked like the G-Men had something going.
On the last play before the two-minute warning, Kregg Lumpkin carried behind right guard for a couple yards to the Atlanta 18-yard-line.
After the stoppage, Manning found Hixon over the middle, but Atlanta reserve safety Robert McClain wrestled him down for a 7-yard gain to the Atlanta 11 when the Giants needed eight for a first down.
A field goal would have made it a two-score game, but Lawrence Tynes had already missed a 30-yarder. This would have been a 28-yard try.
The offense stayed on the field, and Manning was flushed right. He threw on the run to wide receiver Victor Cruz. The ball was a little low, about knee height, and Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel arrived at roughly the same time to blast Cruz from behind as the ball hit the receiver's hands – perhaps a micro-second sooner.
There was no call, and the Giants' last chance to make a game of it was gone. Atlanta ran out the clock, and then went 80 yards in eight plays to start the second half. They led 24-0 after a 40-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to wide receiver Julio Jones.
Maybe that was the drive of the game; it clearly put this one out of reach.