Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants: NFC Wild Card Playoff Post-Game Analysis

This should be an interesting matchup as the New York Giants have gelled together late in the season.  Their defense has finally woke up from their slumber, but they awake to face the third-ranked Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner and eighth-ranked quarterback Matt Ryan with his 92.2 quarterback rating.  This could be a game of magic for the New York Giants — or not.  Giants quarterback Eli Manning has the magic to do it with his seventh-ranked quarterback rating at 92.9.  Lastly, this game should be a conservative one as both teams should rely on the run to establish the pace of the game.  Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith and New York Giants Tom Coughlin won’t take any unnecessary risks.

Now to the post-game analysis:

  • Atlanta Falcons get the first sack of the game against the New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Veteran Falcons defensive end John Abraham sacked Eli Manning for 7 yards at 10:57 in the first quarter.
  • After a drive fueled by Atlanta Falcons rookie wideout Julio Jones and running back Jason Snelling, the New York Giants defense ultimately stepped up and stifled a quarterback sneak on 4th and inches on the Giants 24-yard line at the beginning of the second quarter.  Falcons head coach Mike Smith took a gamble and lost.
  • With the intentional grounding by Giants quarterback Eli Manning, the Atlanta Falcons score a safety to take the lead 2-0 at 13:50 in the second quarter.
  • After some undue pressure from the Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham, Giants quarterback Eli Manning scrambled for 14 yards at 9:04 in the second quarter.  It’s nice and rare to see Eli Manning as a rushing quarterback since it’s not his usual element.
  • After the 34-yard run by Giants power running back Brandon Jacobs and some solid rushing by his teammate Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants score and take the lead 7-2 with 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks with 2:55 until halftime.
  • Giants cornerback Aaron Ross was sidelined at 12:38 in the third quarter with a concussion.  The Giants secondary are thinned even more.
  • After a 22-yard pass to Giants wideout Victor Cruz and a 30-yard rush by  running back Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants drive stalled at the Atlanta 4-yard line, and kicker Lawrence Tynes boots a field goal to extend the Giants lead 10-2 with 7:55 in the third quarter.
  • The Giants defense again stuffed the Falcons 4th and 1 quarterback sneak by Matt Ryan on the Giants 21-yard line at 4:21 in the third quarter.
  • With a big 72-yard strike to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, the Giants up their lead to 17-2.
  • With 10:04 in the fourth quarter, Giants Eli Manning threw a 27-yard strike to his wideout Mario Manningham to extend the lead 24-2.
  • With 3:02 left until the end of the game, Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes misses the field goal.

The first half was the battle of defenses as both the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons stuffed the rushing of their respective running backs, pressured their respective quarterbacks and forced their quarterbacks to pass.  Through the use of their power running back Brandon Jacobs, the Giants finally broke through the Falcons defense and scored the first touchdown of the game. This first touchdown late in the second quarter sparked the Giants defense, and the momentum shifted to the New York Giants by the close of the second quarter. Like the New Orleans Saints-Detroit Lions Wildcard playoff game, the referees have posed problems with their marking of the football.

Beginning the second half, the New York Giants momentum carried over.  The Giants defense stepped up, and the offense continued its pressure with running back Ahmad Bradshaw, running back Brandon Jacobs, wideout Victor Cruz and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. The athletic Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner could never establish  the run, and quarterback Matt Ryan was under continuous pressure.  Compounding with their inability to gain short yardage, the Atlanta Falcons were beaten.

The Giants magic returned as their quarterback Eli Manning had a 129.3 quarterback rating on 277 passing yards and 3 touchdowns.  These numbers would make his brother Peyton Manning proud.  Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks was the homerun hitter as he had 112 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.  The tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs had a combined rushing yardage total of 155.  Their presence was obviously felt by the Atlanta Falcons.

The New York Giants will face the prominent offense of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.  With first-ranked quarterback Aaron Rodgers with a 122.5 quarterback rating and ninth-ranked wideout Jordy Nelson with 1,263 receiving yards, this is an offense to be contested with, especially with their first-round bye to rest and prepare.  The Giants have third-ranked wide receiver Victor Cruz, but is that enough to overcome the potent Packers offense?  The Wildcard game with the Detroit Lions and their elite Calvin Johnson would say no, but anything can happen this season.

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