Giants are one dangerous team

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) waves to fans as he leaves the field surrounded by...

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) waves to fans as he leaves the field surrounded by photographers following his team's win over the Atlanta Falcons in their NFL NFC wildcard playoff football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, January 8, 2012. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:43 PM ET

The New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons were two teams moving in opposite directions Sunday afternoon.

And by that we don’t mean the Giants moving on to Green Bay and the Falcons back to Atlanta.

The Giants are definitely a team on the rise, one led by a stifling defensive unit. The Falcons, on the other hand, look like a team that is heading in reverse.

On Sunday the Giants prevailed 24-2 but the score was flattering to the Falcons. This day they could have lost by 50. They couldn’t run, they couldn’t pass, they could budge the Giants on two fourth-and-inches and they mostly looked scared to death.

The Giants are sky-high on the confidence meter following the one-sided game and they will need all that and more this coming Sunday when they face the Packers offensive juggernaut led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Probably our best effort so far this year,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said following their win. “I think the last three weeks — do or die games for us — we really came out and put things together.

“But it still feels like we can play better and we probably will have to next week going up to Green Bay.”

It will be the second meeting between the two. The first was a classic shootout as the Packers prevailed 38-35 at MetLife Stadium. The Giants can easily look back at that game, how close it was and say to themselves: “Hey, we’re a better team now than then.”

And they’d be right.

“We know they are a good team and we played them tough here,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “We did some good things offensively, scored some points. Our defence is playing great football right now, so hopefully we can continue to do that. But we know offensively we are going to have to play strong.

“We are going to have to play good, we are going to have to score some points, we can’t make mistakes and hopefully get off to a faster start than we did today.”

A key for the Giants against Green Bay is to get their running game as established as they did in the second half against the Falcons when they rushed for 97 yards (172 overall).

“If we can get that run game going like we did in that second half, that opens up a lot of windows,” Manning said. “For the passing game, it makes the safeties come down and get in the mix and we feel with our receivers we will be able to hit some big plays.”

While the Giants season grinds on, the Falcons will be left to do a lot of soul searching.

The team that showed up at MetLife Stadium was completely flat. It is hard to believe given their talent on hand that they could look so lifeless and be dominated so easily.

“We didn’t play very well and I think it’s very evident by the scoreboard and by the performance we put out there,” Atlanta head coach Mike Smith said. “It’s not the type of football we want to play and we’ll start on the 2012 season starting tomorrow.

“We’re going to learn from this. We’re going to learn from every game that we play and try not to be in this situation again.”

As far as his team taking a step back, Smith wasn’t prepared to admit that. Still they went from a team that went 13-3 and won the division to one that was 10-6 and a wild-card entry.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, meanwhile, is 0-3 in the playoffs and Sunday was his weakest performance by far.

“It’s a motivating type of thing,” he said of his third playoff loss in the past four years. “When you’re in the playoffs and obviously you don’t win a Super Bowl, it’s incredibly disappointing and difficult to deal with at first. But you have to move past it and you have to move on and you have to learn from it.

“At this point we’ll have to figure out a way how we can learn from it and get better.”

The player who has to learn and improve the most is Ryan.

So far he has been unable to deliver the goods. Time will tell if he ever will.

ON THE RUN

The New York Giants are patting themselves on the back for running away with Sunday’s victory.

I mean literally.

The run game was one of the missing pieces of the puzzle for the Giants entering Sunday’s playoff game against Atlanta.

They had a stout, tough defence. Check. They had a quarterback who was playing at an elite status. Check. They had a group of receivers that had game-changing ability. Check.

They had a quality running game. Ah, we’ll get back to you on that.

On Sunday, though, the Giants cracked off 172 yards on the ground, 92 of them from big Brandon Jacobs.

It is another reason they were so fired up post-game and so confident heading towards Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers in frigid Lambeau Field.

“At this time of the year that is what we are going to have to do to be able to stay in games,” Jacobs said. “We can throw it to win as well, but why not use all of your weapons? I think the line did a great job of opening holes. We have faith.”

And as Tim Tebow showed in Denver later the same day, faith can move mountains.

 

 


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