With the convincing victory Atlanta moved to 12-2 on the year and one win from home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. They also quieted their critics at least until the playoffs start by playing their most complete game of the year. Atlanta was clicking on all cylinders and looked like a team on their way to the Super Bowl.
The Falcons played like a team trying to “Rise Up” against everyone who has doubted them this year and could not have picked a better team to do it against. As we all know, the Giants beat Atlanta 24-2 in last year’s playoffs en route to another Super Bowl title. This time around Atlanta did them “two” better by shutting out the champs. It was the first time the boys in blue had been held scoreless since 1996.
Atlanta was helped by a defense that snagged two interceptions from Eli Manning and a punched fumble set up by John Abraham. It also did not hurt that Tom Coughlin refused to attempt a field goal when the Giants were in range while trailing 17-0.
New York came into this game hot after racking up a 52-27 win over Atlanta’s rival, the New Orleans Saints and perhaps figured they would handle the Falcons the same way. However, Matt Ryan was not up for it as he completed 23 of 28 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Ryan clearly broke out of his slump and looked like the quarterback who was an MVP candidate to start the season. Julio Jones came up big as well with six catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
This win also proved that Atlanta is definitely a contender and not pretenders as some analysts like to refer to them as. Sure, they have played close games against bad teams, lost to the Carolina Panthers and have had a fairly easy schedule but none of that matters now. The Falcons proved they can beat a hot team, which is important as the playoffs approach and given them teams they could face. The San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers each had impressive wins that could have them steamrolling as the playoffs approach. Atlanta proved they could handle that type of situation should they face it against the NFL’s best team when it comes to going on a run.
Atlanta held Manning to 161 yards passing, limited Victor Cruz to three catches for 15 yards and stuffed the Giants rushing attack. Someone will argue that only happened because Ahmad Bradshaw did not play but David Wilson came into this game playing exceptionally well.