Third Quarter: Closer, But Bleeding on 'D' Must End

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The Giants continue to exploit the Falcons' pass defense and it could cost the Falcons the game. After the Giants' quarterback Eli Manning passed for more than 200 yards in the first half, the Falcons allowed a 51-yard pass play on a third-quarter touchdown drive.

Early in the game, the Falcons got some nice pressure on the Giants, but pressure has eluded the Falcons' defense since. Fox's Daryl Johnston mentioned how in a conversation with former Giants linebacker Carl Banks they discussed how so many offenses operate out of the shotgun nowadays (maybe the influence of college football's spread offense?). He said they both agreed that offenses can make big plays from under center because of the play-action pass and that's what happened on Steve Smith's 51-yard reception.

Fox sideline reporter Tony Siragusa keeps harping on how the Falcons' defensive backs are not turning their heads back to see the ball after it's thrown. Specifically, he was talking about Falcons cornerback Chris Houston, who had a rough drive on that Giants' touchdown drive. Smith beat him for the long reception and then Mario Manningham drew a pass interference call on Houston for a first and goal at the Falcons' 1, which Brandon Jacobs converted with a 2-yard run two plays later.

Offensively for the Falcons, I wrote that they need big plays to come back. Well, that first drive of the second half with catches of 23 yards by Justin Peelle and 28 by Michael Jenkins marked a good start. Johnston said that the Falcons kept the Giants off-balance for the entire 63-yard touchdown drive. He re-iterated that the Giants' red zone defense makes it look too easy for opponents to score.

On the next drive, the Falcons held the ball for 17 plays and -- everyone breathe a sigh of relief -- converted a 25-yard field goal. It was another successful drive to keep the Falcons within striking distance. Of those 17 plays, seven were incomplete passes. The Falcons picked up huge chunks of yards on penalties, some a credit to them and some mistakes by the Giants. Some of the incompletions were caused by pressure from the rush of Giants' Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, whom both Johnston and Siragusa agreed is having his best game of the season.

Jenkins has turned in one of the best performances on offense, with three catches for 48 yards, but his drop in the end zone that led to Elam's field goal hurt.


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