Falcons 14, Giants 10

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)—The day belonged to Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons. The New York Giants have every right to believe the future belongs to Eli Manning.

Vick ran for 104 yards and threw two first-half touchdown passes to Alge Crumpler to lead the Falcons to a 14-10 win over the Giants on Sunday, spoiling Manning’s first start.

Vick and Manning held a meeting of No. 1 overall draft picks shortly after the clock expired.

“I just told him he played a great game,” Vick said after leading the Falcons (8-2) to their third straight win.

“His first game, there is a lot of hype, a lot of pressure on him,” said Vick, the No. 1 pick in 2001. “He came out and played with poise. He made some plays you can’t expect a rookie quarterback to make. I told him he’s going to be just like his brother in due time.”

Manning did not put up big numbers like his older brother, Peyton, of the Indianapolis Colts. However, he overcame a shaky first half and showed why the Giants (5-5) mortgaged their future on draft day, leading two second-half drives that turned a one-sided game into a thriller.

“I was disappointed the way I started the game,” said Manning, who finished 17 of 37 for 162 yards in a performance that included several drops by Giants receivers. “I was better in the second half.”

A lot better.

A 6-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey got New York within 14-7 in the third quarter and another long drive set up a 24-yard field goal by Steve Christie with 6:29 to play.

Manning had one final shot to stage a remarkable comeback after the Giants took over at their 25 with 1:52 to play. Passes to Shockey and IkeHilliard and a 13-yard run by Tiki Barber got the Giants to the Atlanta 42, but linebacker Keith Brooking broke up a fourth-down pass to seal the win.

“As a quarterback you want to have the ball in your hands with a chance to win the game,” Manning said. “We just didn’t get it done.”

The loss was the third straight for New York and its fourth in five games.

Manning, the top overall pick acquired from San Diego in a trade during the draft, also threw two interceptions starting in place of Kurt Warner, who was benched Monday. The second interception hurt, with defensive end Brady Smith picking off a pass at the Falcons 28 late in the third quarter on a zone blitz.

“It was a rookie mistake,” Manning said. “I should have known that.”

Each quarterback excelled for a half. Vick did his damage in the opening half, finishing the game 12-of-20 for 115 yards. He also carried 15 times for his third 100-yard rushing game this season and fifth overall, a league mark.

“Mike wins,” Falcons coach Jim Mora said. “You look at his record, it’s not always pretty in terms of statistics and quarterback rating. You might need to throw those things out when you talk about Mike Vick. He just wins.”

Manning thrilled the Giants in the second half and nearly found a way to pull out a game that seemed lost.

The Giants might have fared better had referee Jeff Triplette not called a roughing-the-passer penalty against Carlos Emmons with about 5 minutes left. Instead of punting from their 9, the Falcons moved the ball before punting and the Giants took it at their 25.

“It was a terrible call in my eyes,” Emmons said, adding he hit Vick in the chest with his hands.

Vick drove the Falcons 84 yards in 11 plays on their opening possession. He carried four times for 53 yards and completed 3 of 4 passes for 24 more, capping the drive with a 6-yard pass to Crumpler on third down.

Two series later, Vick used his arm on a 12-play, 74-yard drive to stretch the lead to 14-0. A 14-yard third-down toss to fullback Justin Griffith and passes of 21 yards to Crumpler and 16 to Dez White set up a 2-yard TD lob to a wide-open Crumpler.

Vick accounted for 194 of the Falcons’ 233 first-half yards, running 10 times for 91 yards and passing for 103.

The Giants gained 84 yards in the opening half, and they were lucky to be trailing by only 14 points.

With 16 seconds left in the half, the Giants took over at their 26 following a punt. Instead of taking a knee, a pass play was sent in and Jason Webster intercepted and returned to the New York 28 with :07 to go.

Jay Feely let Giants coach Tom Coughlin off the hook by missing a 47-yard field goal on the next play. ^Notes: The 100-yard rushing game was Barber’s seventh of the season and 20th of his career, breaking Joe Morris’ team mark. He now has 1,035 yards rushing, his third straight 1,000-yard season. However, his seven-game streak of scoring a TD was snapped. … Giants C Shaun O’Hara (ankle) and S Gibril Wilson (shoulder) were both inactive. … The Falcons had only one sack after getting a season-high seven last week.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
M. Vick M. Vick QB
12-20, 115 yds
2 TDs
 NY Giants
J. Shockey J. Shockey TE
5 Rec, 45 yds
1 TD

Team Stat Leaders

Passing Yards
Rushing Yards
Receiving Yards


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