Mike Dennis returned the overtime kickoff 54 yards and rookie Ali Haji-Sheikh kicked his third field goal, from 30 yards, to give the New York Giants a 16-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons today.
The Falcons (1-1) forced the game into overtime when they tied at 13 with 3:06 left in regulation on Steve Bartkowski's six-yard touchdown pass to Alfred Jackson. It followed a 38-yard interception return by linebacker Al Richardson.
The Giants (1-1) won the overtime toss and elected to receive. Dennis took the kickoff at his five and was not tackled until he reached Atlanta's one, but had stepped out of bounds at the Atlanta 41. Sticking to the ground, mainly on the running of Rob Carpenter, who gained 111 yards in the game, the Giants drove to the Falcons' 13 before calling on Haji-Sheikh.
"I started thinking field goal the moment it went into overtime because almost all overtime games are won with a field goal," he said, adding he is "nervous for every kick.
"That's the first time I've ever kicked a game-winner, although I have had some that were the margin of victory."
Haji-Sheikh kicked a 37-yard field goal with 10:40 gone in the first quarter and a 31-yarder 55 seconds into the last period. The Giants also scored on Scott Brunner's eight-yard pass to Earnest Gray with 1:12 left in the first half. Atlanta's other scoring came on field goals of 42 and 39 yards by Mick Luckhurst.
Atlanta lost a chance to score in the first quarter after William Andrews ran for 13 yards, then went 40 yards on a screen pass to the New York 24. On the next play, Lawrence Taylor forced Gerald Riggs to fumble and Brian Kelley recovered for the Giants on their 18.