EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — The fourth quarter again was the Giants' undoing.
Breakdowns on both sides of the ball Sunday led to their second consecutive brutal loss, this time 24-20 to the Atlanta Falcons in their home opener at MetLife Stadium.
Faced with a short week in prelude to a Thursday night division contest against the Redskins, coach Tom Coughlin can only continue to stress his point about finishing games — something the Giants failed at defensively and in their decision making last week against Dallas.
On Sunday, it was a total team collapse.
"I just asked them to search down inside," Coughlin said after watching Eli Manning's third-quarter fumble at the Falcons 9 turn into a 91-yard touchdown drive. Then he saw Julio Jones streak past cornerback Prince Amukamara in man coverage to set up the winning score with 1:14 remaining. "We talk every week about finishing. That wasn't a finish for me.
"The competitive nature of the finish of the game has got to improve. It's our doing. There's nobody to blame but us."
Between the defense's inability to stop Jones, who tied Tony Gonzalez's 2012 record of 13 single-game catches, and Manning's mental and physical mistakes in a clock-killing situation with just over four minutes remaining, there was plenty of blame to go around.
Manning (27 of 40, 292 yards, two TDs) had defensive end Kroy Biermann strip-sack him with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter as the Giants appeared poised to extend a 20-10 lead. That play sparked the gap-closing Atlanta touchdown drive.
Manning took a delay-of-game penalty after an Atlanta timeout on a late fourth-quarter drive, further annoying Coughlin.
That turned a third-and-7 situation into a third-and-12,, and Preston Parker's 5-yard reception forced a punt. That allowed Ryan to mount his winning 70-yard touchdown drive in which Jones burned Amukamara for 37 yards against an all-out blitz.
"Matt put the ball up there and it was make a play," Jones said. "The DB was still sitting outside of me and I had to go over the top and make a play."
Amukamara accepted his share of the blame.
"We called a blitz on that play," he said. "When the game's close, coach is going to put it on us. We expect that. I was drafted No. 1 to be that guy. The Giants pay me to be that guy."
Amukamara was confident his team will get past the last two weeks.
"When you think about the big picture, yeah, it's tough," he said. "But when you think about the next game and realize 0-2 could easily have been 2-0 because the games were so close, it's not that hard."
The Giants, whose bad decisions and poor execution cost them last week at Dallas, saw Leonard Hankerson catch a 10-yard TD pass to bring Atlanta within three. Then Ryan guided the Falcons to the winning score.
In the first half, Odell Beckham Jr. turned a short pass into a 67-yard touchdown, one of New York's six plays of 19 yards or more.
The Falcons needed Jones' big day because they lost rookie starting running back Tevin Coleman (ribs) in the first half. Ryan turned to the air and threw for 363 yards and one score.
Despite frequent double-team coverage, Beckham, the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year, set an NFL mark with 1,495 yards in the first 14 games of a career. He had seven receptions for 146 yards Sunday.
On his TD, Beckham sped the final 40 yards alone after bursting through a small hole between two defenders who could only flail away.
"We need to keep attacking," Beckham said "It's not 15, 35, 45 or 50 minutes. It's 60 minutes."
New York led 20-10 after Larry Donnell made a sliding 10-yard catch with cornerback Robert Alford on his back.
The Giants lost first-round draft pick Ereck Flowers. The left tackle hobbled off with a sprained left ankle.
NOTES: Coleman got Atlanta's first touchdown on a 1-yard run, his first NFL TD. ... Giants CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is in the NFL's concussion protocol program after a second-half injury. ... Josh Brown had field goals of 38 and 44 yards for New York, while Matt Bryant made a 42-yarder for Atlanta. ... Manning finished with 292 yards passing. ... The Giants honored their 1990 NFL championship team at halftime, with former coach Bill Parcells carrying the Lombardi Trophy onto the field.