EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning has a new option for his improving West Coast offense and the New York Giants are starting to get a new attitude.
That left-over feeling of ‘what can go wrong next’ from last season is being replaced with that belief that somehow, someone is going to make a play to win the game.
In the 30-20 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons (2-3) on Oct. 5, the Giants (3-2) had plenty of heroes in winning their third straight game.
The most noticeable was first-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr., who caught a go-ahead touchdown pass from Manning early in the fourth quarter.
Fellow rookie Andre Williams helped ignite the comeback from a 10-point second-half deficit with a 3-yard touchdown run, while Manning led four scoring drives and the defense shut down the Falcons in the second half.
“I think it says a lot about our team. I think it says that we’re resilient, we’re going to play all fourth quarters, and we’re not going to wait for things to get too rough for us to pick it up,” said safety Antrel Rolle, whose missed tackle allowed Atlanta to take a 20-10 third-quarter lead on a 74-yard scoring pass from Matt Ryan to Antone Smith.
“We hung in there for the first half without playing our best ball, and not even close to it. In the second half, I think we played lights out.”
Beckham was the story. He missed all five preseason games and the first four regular-season contests with a hamstring injury.
Every week coach Tom Coughlin answered endless questions about when Beckham would either practice or play. His debut finally came and he responded by drawing a pass interference call to set up Williams’ TD and his 15-yard go-ahead TD catch with 10:02 to play. It was Manning’s second touchdown pass of the game.
“To be out this long and to have to deal with the adversity I have had, I just I have to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play and for allowing me to score in my first game,” Beckham said.
Ryan threw for 316 yards and a touchdown playing behind a banged-up offensive line that held up until the very end. Atlanta dropped its second straight since dominating Tampa Bay 56-14 on Sept. 18.
Falcons coach Mike Smith refused to blame the team’s injuries or his players for losing a 10-point lead.
“It’s not anybody’s fault but mine,” he said. “It is my responsibility as the head coach, ultimately. And I will, and do, take responsibility for that. It is not about those players.”
Fellow receiver Victor Cruz was excited after Beckham’s first game.
“He is a guy who can change the complexion of our offense and wide receiving corps, and make us that much better,” Cruz said. “It’s big for us to get him back and going in the right direction.”
Atlanta never threatened after Beckham’s score, and Brown iced the game with his second and third field goals.
(TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer)