A 40 yard field goal by Younghoe Koo, gave the Atlanta Falcons a hard-fought 17-14 victory over the New York Giants Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. With the victory, Matt Ryan notched his 40th game winning drive of his career and became the 10th quarterback to throw 350 touchdown passes in a career. In a bit of irony, ninth on the list is Eli Manning. With his 366 career touchdowns, Manning’s No. 10 jersey was retired Sunday.
The active players who have more touchdown passes than Ryan are Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. The next-closest active quarterback to 350 touchdowns is Matthew Stafford, who has 287.
Arthur Smith also won his first game as Falcons head coach. Moreover, it was the second straight game in which the Giants lost on a last second field goal.
After two Graham Gano field goals , Ryan was able to find wide receiver Olamide Zaccheus on a four-yard touchdown pass, which put the Falcons up 7-6 with 1:33 remaining in the second quarter.
“I said we’re not gonna be the same team in September when we get into October and November and that’s what the good teams do,” said Falcons head coach Arthur Smith. “You find a way to improve and defensively. We played complimentary football in all three phases in a wonderful position battle, and certain areas that let us get to that first touchdown that we desperately needed.”
Giants running back Saquon Barkley scored a dramatic touchdown on a one-yard leap over the defensive line. Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett attempted to meet Barkley at the summit, however, Barkley already crossed the goal line. It put New York ahead 14-7 with 12:53 remaining in the fourth quarter as the two point conversion was successful.
Barkley would run for 43 yards.
On the next possession, Atlanta marched 72 yards on 15 plays, ending with a Lee Smith touchdown. The game was tied at 14 with 4:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.
After the Giants was forced to punt at the two minute warning, the Falcons took over on their 20 yard line with 1:50 remaining in the game. On the first play, all-purpose offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson caught a short Ryan pass to the right for 28 yards. Two plays later, Ryan was able to find tight end Kyle Pitts on a 25 yard reception, which placed the ball on the Giants 25 yard line. A couple of plays later, Koo was able to seal the win with a 40 yard field goal.
“We try to get all our guys involved, because he [Pitts] didn’t touch the ball early doesn’t mean he wasn’t called,” Smith explained. “I mean those are really surface narratives, but when you come up with the game on the line. You know, they changed it up and not down them when we needed to, so I was happy to see that.”
Ryan was 27-of-36 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked three times.
Falcons defensive lineman Marlon Davison suffered an ankle injury late in the first half and did not return. Mwanwhile, Giants’ inside linebacker Blake Martinez suffered a knee injury on the opening series and did not return. Martinez led the Giants in tackles last year. Wide receivers Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard each suffered hamstring injuries and did not return.