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Giants put forth effort, win fourth consecutive game

The New York Giants are on another roll. Now, they've got to sustain it.

ATLANTA -- The New York Giants are on another roll. Now, they've got to sustain it.

Eli Manning passed for 303 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Giants to their fourth straight win, a 31-10 decision over the hapless Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.

The Giants (4-2) took control after a wild first quarter in which the teams combined for 24 points. New York scored the final 24 points to send the Michael Vick-less Falcons tumbling to their fifth loss in six games.

"I felt good throwing the ball," said Manning, who completed 12 straight at one point in the first half. "I was getting opportunities in a timely fashion. I was spreading the ball around to all receivers."

The Giants have bounced back after starting the season with losses to Dallas and Green Bay, but they must be mindful of the collapse that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago.

A five-game winning streak had the Giants at 6-2 midway through the 2006 season, but they managed just two more wins the rest of the way.

Maybe that's why coach Tom Coughlin didn't sound all that enthused.

"I thought sometimes we did play well offensively, and then sometimes we did not," he said. "There were some issues."

Manning threw a pair of touchdown passes and set up another New York TD with three straight completions, which lessened the damage of two interceptions and losing a fumble when John Abraham knocked the ball loose just before the quarterback's arm went forward.

It also helped to be playing the Falcons, who are averaging just 13.2 points a game.

"They are a good defensive football team," Coughlin said. "They have some problems, obviously, on the offensive side of the ball."

Manning was 27-of-39 and put up his highest total since a 312-yard performance against the Cowboys in Week 1.

He hooked up with Amani Toomer on a 5-yard scoring pass in the back-and-forth opening period. Before the half was done, Manning went deep for a 43-yard touchdown to Plaxico Burress that gave the Giants a 21-10 lead; Burress turned to the crowd and bowed after getting wide open down the middle.

The Falcons have little reason to take a bow. Their offense is dreadful, a striking contrast to the high-scoring teams that Bobby Petrino coached in college.

Playing behind a patched-up line, Joey Harrington was sacked four times, had several passes deflected at the line and did plenty of scrambling to avoid New York's fearsome pass rush, which had tied a league record with 12 sacks of Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb two weeks earlier.

The Falcons, who were starting two new tackles because of injuries, actually did a better-than-expected job keeping Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan and Co. away from Harrington. That was largely because Harrington went with quick drops and short passes, not leaving much time to open up the passing game.

"Eventually, they started to dominate the line of scrimmage," Petrino said. "We couldn't sustain the run and execute the passing game."

After yanking Harrington the previous week in favor of Byron Leftwich, the Falcons didn't have a backup plan against the Giants. Leftwich, who signed with Atlanta after Week 2, was designated as the third quarterback because of a sore ankle, and backup Chris Redman has not played in a game since 2003.

"Byron probably could have gone in there and played," Petrino said. "But missing two days of practice when he's only been here a month, that would have been hard to do. We decided to stick with Joey and see what he could do."

Which was not much. Harrington was 18-of-39 for 209 yards, putting him in danger of losing another starting job after he was already deposed in Detroit and Miami. The Falcons were totally inept after their quick start, managing 159 yards and nine first downs over the final three quarters, most of them coming after the Giants already had put the game away.

"When they pop in that film," Strahan said, "I don't want them to say the defensive line didn't give it everything we had."

Redman did start warming up at one point late in the first half after Harrington was shaken up on a sack by Antonio Pierce, but the starter was able to stay in the game, much to the chagrin of Atlanta fans who still miss Vick.

When another Falcons possession fizzled with about 10 minutes remaining, the red-clad fans at the Georgia Dome delivered one last round of boos and headed for the exits, leaving a healthy contingent of New York fans to cheer on their team the rest of the way.

The Falcons started quickly, jumping ahead on Morten Andersen's 47-yard field and reclaiming a 10-7 lead when Jerious Norwood broke off 67-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage after Manning's TD pass to Toomer.

New York bounced back to take the lead for good before the quarter was done. Brandon Jacobs broke off a 20-yard run and Manning completed three passes for 56 yards, the last of them a 17-yarder that Toomer gathered in at the 1 and managed to drag both toes along the turf before tumbling out of bounds.

Reuben Droughns powered over on the next play, and the Giants were up 14-10 and on their way.

Toomer became the leading receiver in Giants history with his 587th career reception, and also tied Kyle Rote's club mark with 48 TD catches.

Derrick Ward added New York's final score with just over 3 minutes remaining on a 9-yard run.

Petrino must be wondering why he left a college powerhouse at Louisville.

"I'm frustrated, everybody's frustrated," he said. "We've just got to keep working at it. Eventually, it's going to turn."

Notes: The Giants became just the third team in NFL history with 600 regular-season wins. They are 600-502-33 in franchise history, following Chicago and Green Bay. ... Atlanta reached 100 yards rushing for the first time this season, largely because of Norwood's big run. Starter Warrick Dunn was held to 15 yards on eight carries. ... Atlanta DT Rod Coleman played his first game of the season but wasn't much of a factor with three tackles.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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