By Paul Dottino
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Dropped passes, mental errors, fumbles … it just keeps on happening. The list that outlines how the Giants have self-destructed is already very long — and the season is only two games old.
Maybe the only difference between Sunday’s 24-20 loss to Atlanta and the Week 1 defeat in Dallas is that Sunday was the Giants’ home opener. Otherwise, the same bad traits showed up again and there’s really no way to predict when — or if — the team will be able to turn it around.
It’s nearly impossible to predict anything about the Giants with certainty after watching how they have become the first team in NFL history to blow two double-digit leads in the fourth quarter on their way to an 0-2 start.
The Giants have clearly missed injured wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) and middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee). The latter hopes to play Thursday against Washington. Big Blue also had cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (burner, concussion) and left tackle Ereck Flowers (sprained ankle) knocked out of the Falcons game.
Offense — WR Odell Beckham Jr. It didn’t seem like he was satisfied with his pedestrian output in Dallas because he lit up the Falcons for 146 yards on seven catches, including a 67-yard TD that tied the game at 10 with 3:19 left in the first half.
Beckham totally took apart Falcons’ corner Robert Alford in the opening 30 minutes, catching balls off several different routes and providing the Giants with a much-needed spark that helped them take an eventual 20-10 lead into the final quarter. His touchdown came off a simple short slant from the left side as he snared the pass and split the defense before pulling away.
Bekcham also drew a pass interference call against Alford down the left sideline on the Giants’ final drive to keep their hopes afloat.
Defense — OLB Devon Kennard. The hard-hitting defender was in on a team-leading nine tackles, including seven solo. He also was a bigger part of the Giants’ pressure package, registering two of the Giants’ eight hits on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.
And how’s this for an eye-opener: Kennard showed his athleticism on a fourth-quarter screen to receiver Julio Jones, tracking him down for just a 5-yard gain.
Special teams — WR Dwayne Harris. You got a good look at how much he can do in the return game: four punt returns for 66 yards (with a long of 29) to go with his kickoff returns of 41 and 36 yards. He adds electricity to the return game, period.
Offense — WR Preston Parker. It’s almost unfair to box him into a corner like this for the second week in a row because a few players, including QB Eli Manning (fumbled away the ball in the red zone) contributed to the game’s outcome. But Paker dropped a fourth-down pass in Atlanta territory with 44 seconds to go that ended the Giants’ hopes. He also couldn’t handle a second-down pass near midfield on a stalled drive with less than two minutes left in the first half.
Defense — CB Prince Amukamara. It’s the nature of the business — you take the heat when you get beat on a big play in man coverage, no matter how well you played throughout the 60 minutes. Jones burned Amukamara for a 38-yard catch on a go route down the left sideline for an apparent touchdown with 1:31 to go on the Falcons’ game-winning drive. Jones set up the play by faking a move to the inside that he had taken most of the day. The ball was placed at the 1 after a video review, but the damage was done and the Falcons punched it in two plays later.
Special teams — None. It’s very rare when a unit performs so well that it would be a nitpick to name anyone. However, this unit lived up to its responsibilities and has been a bright spot through the first two games.