Without much of a running game and another big injury, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went to the team’s quick and short passing game to slowly wear down the Giants on Monday Night Football at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Replacement kicker Giorgia Tavecchio, a native of Milan, Italy, made a 56-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to lift the Falcons to a 23-20 victory.
“I think it was huge for us to get the job done tonight,” Ryan said. “To inch our way closer to .500 is a positive for us. It was a tough win.”
The Falcons improved to 3-4 heading into their bye week.
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The Falcons’ injury-ravaged defense mustered four sacks and goal-line stand in the second half.
The Falcons, who have been hit hard by injuries, saw another starter, right guard Brandon Fusco, leave the game with a right ankle injury. He couldn’t put his weight on his leg leaving the field.
Ryan completed 31 of 39 passes for 379 yards and a touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 115.7.
Julio Jones had nine catches for 104 yards.
“We just have to continue to keep building,” Jones said. “The games we lost in the past, (by) six points or less, we had to figure out how to win games. Last week, we figured out a way to win and this week we figured out a way to win. It’s great.”
The Giants dropped to 1-6 on the season.
Here are the five things we learned from the game:
1. Goal-line stand: With the Falcons up 10-3, the defense made a goal-line stand on the Giants’ first possession of the second half.
The Giants, on the strength of an 53-yard pass play from Eli Manning to wide receiver Sterling Shepard, drove down to the Falcons 1-yard line.
The Giants elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal, but Manning tried to force a pass into tight end Scott Simonson that was incomplete.
“The front seven did a great job of putting pressure on them,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “Once you get the quarterback out of his comfort zone and off his spot, it’s hard for them to complete passes. They did a great job up front.”
The Falcons’ offense went on the move, but turned the ball over on a fumble by Jones at New York’s 20-yard line. Janoris Jenkins was credited with a force fumbled.
On the ensuing play, Odell Beckham Jr. got loose for a 51-yard gain and the Giants were threatening again.
The Giants added a field goal to make it 10-6.
Tavecchio, who replaced kicker Matt Bryant, made goals of 40, 50 and 56 yards, answered for the Falcons.
His 50-yarder put the Falcons up 13-6.
Running back Tevin Coleman added a 30-yard touchdown run.
The Giants wouldn’t go away.
2. Sack attack: The Falcons’ pass rush was able to exploit the Giants’ weak offensive line.
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who returned to action after missing the past two games with an ankle sprain, had two sacks.
Defensive tackle Jack Crawford and defensive end Takk McKinkley also added sacks.
“It was definitely good to be back out there today,” Jarrett said.
The Falcons also had nine quarterback hits on Manning.
3. Running wild: The Falcons rushing attack got off to a good start. On the second play from scrimmage, Coleman broke loose over right tackle for a 14-yard game.
That was it for the first half. The Falcons has six more carries for seven yards as there was much room to run.
The run was stymied until Coleman broke loose for his touchdown run.
Giants rookie Saquon Barkley finished with 43 yards on 14 carries. He also caught nine passes for 51 yards.
Barkley added a 2-yard touchdown, but the Giants two-point conversion attempt failed.
“Definitely, just getting a lot of hats to the ball,” Jarrett said. “You saw guys out there hunting in the pass game and run game. He’s a back, you have to give him his due respect. We haven’t ever seen anything like that. Just somebody who could really do it all. Big and fast. We had to pay him his respect.”
The Giants added a last-ditch touchdown pass to Beckham.
The Falcons were in the clear when Jones recovered the onsides kick and they ran out the final four seconds.
4. Spreading it around: Ryan completed passes to 10 different receivers, including wide receiver Marvin Hall’s 47-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
The speedy Hall ran a post pattern and blew past Jenkins.
“I saw the safety had jumped the route and I had a one-on-one,” Hall said. “I just made the most of my opportunity.”
Fullback Ricky Ortiz caught two passes.
“That’s the beautiful thing about our offense,” Ortiz said. “We get the ball to a lot of different guys and we all have different skill sets. We are also distributing the ball to different people. It’s good for just the later games as far as film goes and other teams studying us. They have to cover all of us.”
5. Injury report: Fusco left the game late in the second quarter with a right ankle injury. He hopped off the field and couldn’t put any pressure on his right leg. He was replaced by Ben Garland.
Falcons rookie defensive tackle Deadrin Senat was injured with 11:50 left in the third quarter. He walked off the field under his own power.