Atlanta Falcons Week 3 preview: New York Giants

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH -- The New York Giants have some early-season football drama.

They lost a game after appearing to have won it, their $72 million wide receiver was seen yelling at the franchise quarterback on the sidelines and the prized rookie receiver took to social media to call for the ball.

The Falcons (0-2) are set to face the Giants (0-2) and all of their drama at 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“(Coach) Joe (Judge) will have those guys ready to go,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said.

The Giants were up 29-27 when Washington’s Dustin Hopkins missed a field-goal attempt Thursday. But New York’s Dexter Lawrence was called for an offside penalty with no time left on the clock. Hopkins made the second attempt for the 30-29 win.

The penalty moved the ball five yards closer and wiped out the miss that would have ended the game.

Wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who signed a four-year contract with $40 million guaranteed in free agency, was seen yelling in the direction of quarterback Daniel Jones during the game. He told the media that he was really yelling at offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.

On top of the win that turned into a loss and Golladay’s antics, rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney took to social media to complain about not getting any touches over 19 offensive snaps.

“I’ve already spoken to all parties involved about all that stuff you guys (reporters) are referencing,” Giants coach Joe Judge told the New York media Monday. “You guys asked me the other night about Kenny, there was no argument on the sideline. There was no him versus Daniel or anything of that nature.”

The coach described the outburst as Golladay being passionate about the game and not about being under-used.

“There was no blowup or anything that has to be made of it,” Judge said. “I understand sometimes the perceptions will be what they are, but like I said the other day, there’s no issue there.”

Sterling Shepard is the Giants’ top receiver, with 16 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Golladay has seven catches for 102 yards and no touchdowns.

Golladay caught three passes for 38 yards in the loss to Washington. The former Detroit Lions standout had two 1,000-yard seasons and led the NFL with 11 touchdowns in 2019.

Both teams are 0-2 and trying find their way early in the league’s first 17-game season.

“I mean you don’t want to be in this spot, but we are; it’s a reality,” Smith said. “We got 15 more to go, we’ve got to prepare ourselves to go up there and go win a football game, and we need to do it, they’re probably saying the same thing up in New York or New Jersey.”

The Falcons must contend with running back Saquon Barkley, who has rushed 23 times for 83 yards and caught three passes for 13 yards.

“We know it’s going to be a challenge, going on the road, it’ll be a tough football game, they’ll be sound, it’s good a scheme,” Smith said. “So, we know we got our work cut out for us.”

Barkley missed most of last season after tearing the ACL in his knee. This will be his third game back.

“We know he’s a hell of a player, and we’re going to have to contain him,” Smith said.

With the Giants playing Thursday, they had an early start on preparing for the Falcons.

“Whether you’re talking about, recovery, whether you’re talking about just jumping on maybe the game plan, it can help you,” Smith said. “If you use it right. Same thing you could use it wrong, where you can overthink everything and tear up a couple game plans, swipe two or three times, so it goes both ways. But certainly, you’d like to think it gives you somewhat of an advantage.”

The Giants have several players with local ties, including tight end Evan Engram, who played at Hillgrove High. He missed the first two games with a calf injury, but returned to practice Monday and could make his debut against the Falcons.

“He’s making consistent improvement,” Judge said. “It’s moving in the right redirection.”

Left tackle Andrew Thomas (Pace Academy/Georgia), linebacker Lorenzo Carter (Norcross High/Georgia), wide receiver Darius Slayton (Greater Atlanta Christian/Auburn) and defensive end Azeez Ojulari (Marietta High/ Georgia) also play key roles for the Giants.

The Giants have to be thinking they can get well against the Falcons, who have given up 80 points in the first two games of the season.

“This is a team that’s very capable, very talented, very well-coached,” Judge said. “Look, Dean Pees is an outstanding coach. He’s been in the league for a long time for a reason. So, I mean, relative to what their defense did in the first two games is not going to have any bearing on what is going to happen this Sunday. We have to go ahead and get ready to play.”

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Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo

Atlanta Falcons Schedule

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons at New York Giants, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m.

Washington FT at Falcons, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.

New York Jets vs. Falcons in London, Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

Here’s the rest of full schedule.

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