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Giants Q & A: Slow start, great end

Johnathan Hankins, left, celebrates his fourth-quarter sack against

Johnathan Hankins, left, celebrates his fourth-quarter sack against the Atlanta Falcons with teammate Antrel Rolle at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

How did the Giants' pass rush perform against the dilapidated offensive line of the Falcons?

Not great at first. The Falcons used quick drops and short passes to compensate for the three new starters they had in front of Matt Ryan, and through most of the first half, it worked. Eventually, though, the Giants adjusted. They increased their stunts and were able to put more pressure on Ryan in the second half.

So they got a lot more sacks?

Not a lot more. Just one. But it was a big one; defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins brought down Ryan on fourth-and-1 at the Atlanta 29 with just under five minutes left.

It was somewhat reminiscent (and at roughly the same spot on the field at MetLife Stadium) of the play in which the Giants stuffed a fourth-down conversion attempt against the Falcons in their NFC wild-card playoff game after the 2011 season.

How did Hankins go through the line untouched for the victory-sealing sack?

It was a stunt that Jason Pierre-Paul called on the field and communicated to Robert Ayers Jr. That caused confusion on the offensive line and allowed Hankins to shoot up the middle for the takedown.

What happened to Rashad Jennings?

The starting running back injured his left knee when it was "ruffled up under the pile a little bit" on a carry in the third quarter, he said. He'll undergo an MRI Monday and seemed confident about a speedy return. "I should be all right," he said. "That's how I feel."

Is Andre Williams ready to be the starting running back if Jennings is unavailable next week or beyond?

"I think I'm as ready as I'm going to be," the rookie said. "There's no time to really analyze whether I am or not because the decision was made that I had to go into the game, and this is what I was brought here for, to play football."

How about Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie?

The star cornerback rotated in and out of the game with a left ankle injury he said dates to last season. "I asked them to let me take a play here and there, a series here and there, and they agreed to it," he said of his sporadic playing time. Zack Bowman replaced him at cornerback when he was on the sideline.

How big was the play by Prince Amukamara late in the second quarter when he broke up a potential touchdown pass to Roddy White at the goal line?

Huge. The Falcons could have taken a 17-10 halftime lead on the pass but instead settled for a field goal and a 13-10 lead. "As a cornerback, you sort of feel disrespected when a quarterback thinks they can throw a slant like that," Amukamara said. Jameel McClain helped with a hit on White on the play that kept the Giants in the game until they found their second-half legs.

Going back to that fourth-down play, should the Falcons have gone for it? Should they have tried to pass?

They made up their minds about it before the game even started. "We had talked all through the week that [if it] came up in the ballgame that we would go for it," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "We felt like we had a good play, we just didn't execute it. To me, it was a very makable fourth down."

So no regrets?

"Guys," Smith said, "in this position we make decisions and you can't have regrets."


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