The last chance came on a desperate, fourth-down heave by Eli Manning in the general direction of Preston Parker. But the Falcons' pass rush had kept Manning from getting enough mustard on the ball, and it was dying as it made its way to Parker. He got his fingers on it but couldn't hold on.
The Falcons took over and were able to kneel out the final 35 seconds of a 24-20 victory Sunday, and suddenly the Giants were 0-2.
"We've got to come up with it,'' Parker said of that last opportunity. "We've just got to come up with it.''
As in their loss to the Cowboys, the Giants gave up a late lead, but this game might never have been within reach had they just been able to hold on to the football. Several of Manning's passes fell incomplete after receivers got their hands on them, including one to Odell Beckham Jr. on their final possession.
"I feel as if we beat ourselves,'' said Beckham, who had seven catches for 146 yards and a 67-yard touchdown. "I'm a competitor, so I'm never going to believe that we didn't beat ourselves. And there's things that we need to correct -- dropped balls, fumbles, whatever the case may be. We just need to clean it up and find a way to get it done.''
The biggest miscue came when Manning fumbled late in the third quarter with the Giants poised to increase a 20-10 lead. On third-and-2 from the Falcons' 8-yard line, Kroy Biermann sacked Manning and the ball came loose. Nose tackle Paul Soliai recovered, and Atlanta marched 91 yards to pull within 20-17 and take the momentum away.
"The unfortunate thing, the most disappointing thing for me, is from that point on, I didn't see any offense,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
His players, however, did not want to call that turnover the turning point.
"It's part of the game,'' Parker said. "We fumbled. And we've just got to come back and try to win. And that didn't happen.''
Manning said the Giants had opportunities after that turnover. He pointed to the next possession, where they had the ball for more than four minutes, getting three first downs before a third-and-2 handoff to Rashad Jennings was stuffed for a 1-yard loss.
The Giants stopped Atlanta on the ensuing drive, but on their next possession, a delay-of-game penalty on third-and-7 helped contribute to a crucial three-and-out. That gave Atlanta the ball back for the winning drive.
"We've just got to execute,'' Jennings said. "As any player in here knows, it's going to come down to execution. We do that, we've got a good unit. We're going to be right where we need to be. We minimize those little details and we'll be fine.''