While hosting their first playoff football game in four years (first at MetLife stadium), the Giants finally won a playoff game at home for the first time since 2000 by beating the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 on Sunday. And just like the time they beat the Vikings 41-0 in 2000, yesterday’s effort was nearly flawless.
The Giants dominated both sides of the ball in easily disposing of the Falcons. On this day it was all good, with very little (if any) bad or ugly.
So without any further ado, lets assess the good, the bad and the ugly.
Pass rush proves to be vicious once again
To say the Giants are peaking on defense, would be a major understatement. The Giants are applying pressuring on quarterbacks with reckless abandon and the results have been astonishing. On Sunday, the Giants only registered two sacks, but clearly rattled Matt Ryan all day. Ryan never got into a comfortable rhythm, only passing for 199 yards. If the Giants continue to get pressure like this, then there is no telling how far they can go.
Pass rush makes secondary look awesome
As they say, a great pass rush can make an average secondary look terrific. Well, that wasn’t more apropos than on Sunday when the Giants secondary held the Falcons vertical attack in check. Superstar receiver Roddy White had only five receptions for 52 yards. Rookie sensation Julio Jones was a little better, but not by much hauling in seven catches for 64 yards. Meanwhile, grizzled vet Tony Gonzalez had only four catches for 44 yards. The Falcons came in being known as a pass-happy bunch and the secondary did its job in spades.
Eli, of course, does his thing
Eli picked up where he left off in the regular season and delivered the goods when it counted most. Manning was an efficient 23 of 32 for 277 yards. On the day Manning connected with Hakeem Nicks on two touchdown passes while hitting Mario Manningham for the game’s final damage. A 129.3passer rating is about as good as you can ask for from Manning.
Nicks steps up in Cruz’ absence
With the Falcons perhaps keying in on Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks made the Falcons pay by punishing them on his way to a six catch, 115-yard day and two touchdowns. While Cruz has been the breakout star on the Giants, many often overlook just how dangerous Nicks can be on any given Sunday. P.S. It was also great to see Manningham get back into the flow of things with four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Rushing attack comes alive
Ok, who had the Giants rushing for 172 yards against a solid Falcons D-line? Certainly not me, and probably about another 99 percent of you fans. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs sparked a comatose rushing attack en route to an inspiring performance. It’s not a moment too late as the Giants will need to run the ball against the Packers and grind the clock, while keeping Aaron Rodgers off the field as much as possible.
Jacobs converting crucial fourth down in waning moments of second quarter which set up first touchdown
There is no denying just how important Jacobs’ two-yard run on fourth and inches with 3:33 to go on the Falcons 6-yard line was. With just about to inch to get, Tom Coughlin confidently called Jacobs’ number and he plunged forward to get the tough yards, a trait he has had trouble with this year. On the next play, Manning hit Nicks on a four-yard strike to give the Giants a huge momentum-clutching touchdown before heading to halftime up 7-2.
4th and nowhere
Falcons’ coach Mike Smith loves to gamble. This much we know. On two critical possessions (and one in desperation at the end of game), the Giants stopped the Falcons on fourth down with 1-yard or less to go. The line stuffed the hole and wouldn’t muster any positive yardage while stopping the Falcons dead in their tracks.
Giants also stop Falcons running game
Known as one of the game’s best running backs, Michael Turner found little running room against the Giants on Sunday. Every time Turner received the ball, Giant defenders swarmed to him like bees to honey. On the day Turner only rushed for 41 yards on 15 carries, which equates to a pathetic 2.7 yards per carry.
The Bad, the ugly????
What, after the defense pitches a shutout and the run game comes together with the passing game, you want me to come up some negative feedback. Sure, Victor Cruz being held to only 28 yards on two catches is a bit disconcerting, but that was about all. Want me to gripe about Eli taking a sack? Lawrence Tynes missing a field goal up 22 points with 2:57 to go? Nope! Bring on the Pack!
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