ATLANTA -- There appears to be no remedy for the New York Giants' inability to score points. Not a few extra days to prepare. Not reshuffling the offensive line. Not the Atlanta Falcons' leaky and decimated defense. Not even the brilliance of rookie running back Saquon Barkley or a prime-time stage to prove wrong everyone who had them buried.
Barkley failed to reach 100 total yards for the first time in his professional career, and the Giants didn’t reach the end zone until late in the fourth quarter against a team that came into Monday night allowing 32.0 points per game this season. The Giants lost 23-20 to the Falcons in an effort that epitomized their offensive struggles this season.
"I did think this was going to be a big day for us," said wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who finished with eight catches on 11 targets for 143 yards with a touchdown. "But they had a good game plan and we didn't -- the smallest, smallest things -- we didn't execute."
Owner John Mara called the team's offense "broken" after the 2013 season. It may have been temporarily remedied, but is now back to that sorry state. The Giants have been among the league's lowest-scoring teams for the past three seasons. They're averaging 19.6 points per game this season, despite having weapons such as Barkley, Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. Only five teams are averaging less.
"We have to do a better job of getting in the end zone on offense," coach Pat Shurmur said.
The one constant for the Giants up to this point had been Barkley. He had 100 total yards in each of his first six career games. He was trying to tie Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt's record of seven such games, set last season, but he fell short on Monday night.
Barkley finished with 94 total yards, including 43 rushing. He added 51 yards receiving on nine catches, but wasn't impressed with his own performance.
"Personally, I didn't play a good game," Barkley said.
He later added: "I wouldn't say it was the hardest game. Personally, I just didn't play up to my standards. I feel like I didn't break enough tackles -- the whole game, all around could've been better. I was falling. I wasn't myself. I owe it to the guys, I have to be a better player and find a way to help the team win in these situations."
The rookie running back didn’t have much of a chance. When he was stuffed for a loss on a third-quarter goal-line carry, it was the fourth time in the contest that he had a rush for no gain or loss.
Shepard finished with five catches for 167 yards, yet the Giants still had scored six points midway through the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Eli Manning's numbers looked fine on the surface. He finished with 399 yards passing, but he was sacked four times in the first half. He didn't throw a touchdown pass until there were five seconds remaining. It was his first TD in two weeks, and he has seven in seven games this season.
The Giants converted two of their five trips into the red zone into a touchdown. They're now 2-for-8 in the past two games.
"That pretty much sums it up. We have to score touchdowns when we get down there in the red zone. Settle for field goals and one time not getting anything, that is what is hampering us the last couple games," Manning said. "When you get down there, it just changes everything when you get touchdowns. Put a little pressure on the other team, a little more momentum and it would have tied the game or given us the lead in a couple scenarios."
"We have to finish," he said later.
The Giants with their sputtering offense also lost their 21st straight game when trailing in the fourth quarter, the longest active streak in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information.