ATLANTA (CBSNewYork/AP) — Handed the perfect setup against a depleted, struggling Atlanta defense, the New York Giants’ offense again fell short.
No one was more surprised than Odell Beckham Jr.
“I did think this was going to be a big day for us,” Beckham said.
Instead, the Giants were held to two field goals through three quarters of their 23-20 loss to the Falcons on Monday night. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns were not enough to win the game or convince anyone in the New York locker room that answers had been found for season-long scoring woes that led to the Giants’ fourth straight loss.
The Giants (1-6) were frustrated by an Atlanta defense which has three starters on injured reserve and had allowed the second-most points and third-most yards per game in the NFL.
After the game, Beckham sat facing his locker, holding his head in his hands before finally heading off to his shower.
When he faced reporters later, he was calm but frustrated.
“It’s the little things, the little pieces that you’ve got to put together, the little things that are the difference between losing and winning,” Beckham said. “We just haven’t found a way to put it all together.”
The statistics would suggest Beckham did his part with eight receptions for 143 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown catch with only 5 seconds remaining.
The touchdown made the final score look more respectable, but it brought Beckham little comfort. He chastised himself for failing to catch a 2-point pass that could have cut the Falcons’ lead to 20-14 with about five minutes remaining.
“That’s something I have to go home with at night,” he said. “That’s tough.”
Despite having such weapons as Beckham, Sterling Shepard, who had five catches for 167 yards, rookie standout running back Saquon Barkley and two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning, the Giants have found no answer to their season-long inability to turn yards into points.
“We know we have talent,” said tight end Evan Engram. “We’re doing things. We’re just not putting the big picture together. That’s what’s frustrating. … We’re just going to keep working, and it will eventually pop.”
The Giants have scored no more than 20 points in five of their seven games.
“I can’t give you the answer,” Barkley said. “We’re not executing. We’re not finishing drives. That’s the gist of our season. … We’ve got to find a way to execute and finish our game.”
There were no turnovers to blame. Manning threw for 399 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, but he was sacked four times for a loss of 27 yards. Entering the game, the 37-year-old Manning had been sacked 20 times, third-most in the NFL.
Barkley was held to 43 yards, his second-lowest total of the season, on 14 carries. He added nine catches for 51 yards.
“Honestly, personally I didn’t play a good game,” Barkley said. “… I wasn’t the player I usually am.”
The difficulties in scoring might have influenced coach Pat Shurmur’s aggressive play-calling.
With Atlanta leading 10-3 early in the third quarter, Shurmur left his offense on the field for a fourth-down play from the Atlanta 1. Manning’s pass for Scott Simonson was incomplete.
Shurmur again left his offense on the field to go for a 2-point play after Barkley’s 2-yard scoring run cut Atlanta’s lead to 20-12 in the fourth quarter. Giants players supported the call, which ended with the incompletion to Beckham.
“He has faith in us that we’re going to put it in the end zone,” Shepard said. “I love that the coaches have faith in us.”
Added Beckham: “I like the call. I love being aggressive.”
Shurmur said analytics show “You increase your chances by 50 percent if you go for it and make it there, so that’s what you do.”
Shurmur said going for 2 was “an aggressive approach. … I think from a head coaching perspective, I want to be aggressive for our guys.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)