Turnovers and time of possession are important stats in any game. On the road, they often become that much more pressing factors in the outcome of a game.
The Giants, who were 3-0 all-time in the Georgia Dome entering Sunday, knew this. But knowing and doing are two different things.
On his first pass of the game – and second offensive play overall – Eli Manning threw an interception to cornerback Asante Samuel, which led to Atlanta's first touchdown in a 34-0 rout of the Giants. A quarter later, Manning was picked off again by safety Thomas DeCoud, resulting in a Falcons field goal.
Fittingly, the Giants' final offensive play was a lost fumble by running back Kregg Lumpkin.
"That's football, and we didn't come out today and play our best," Manning said. "And you've got to give credit to Atlanta. They did a great job, but any time you turn the ball over three times and have three turnovers on downs, you're putting yourself in a tough situation and we just didn't take advantage of the opportunities that we were in."
Additionally, the Giants, who entered Week 15 first in the NFC with a plus-16 turnover differential, were unable to generate any takeaways on defense. The Falcons were plus-6 heading into Sunday's contest against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
And in that Wild Card game back in January, the Giants stopped Atlanta on three critical fourth-down conversion attempts. The Falcons returned the favor Sunday as New York was unsuccessful on three of their own attempts, turning the ball over on downs. Meanwhile, the Falcons converted 9 of 13 third downs and controlled the clock by more than 17 minutes (38:57 to 21:03).
"We just have to convert," said wide receiver Domenik Hixon, who led the Giants with five catches and 80 yards. "A lot of times we had fourth downs that we've got to convert on, and we've just got to keep the ball. We made mistakes, and they capitalized on every one. We can't do that, but I know we're disappointed, especially our offense and our performance not putting up any points."