There was no better way to win the NFC East division than to beat the Jets and then the hated division rivals in prime time to clinch the title to wrap up the season. It was win or go home situation for both teams at MetLife stadium in the NFL’s final game of the 2011 season, and the Giants found a way on the first night of the New Year to get into the post season to face the Falcons in round one. 16 games in 17 weeks with many highlights and injuries, but with a 9-7 record, Big Blue proved that they are with no doubt a playoff team as well.
After a full week of mental and physical preparation, trash talking, and interviews, both the Giants and Falcons were ready to battle it out Sunday afternoon in MetLife Stadium for their first playoff game. When it was all said and done, Pro Bowl quarterback Eli Manning had thrown three touchdown passes, and the New York Giants ran all over the Atlanta Falcons in a 24-2 rout in the NFC wild-card game. Manning, who’s having his best NFL season, had the highlight of the day when he connected with Hakeem Nicks for a 72-yard score with 2:44 left in the 3rd quarter, and Mario Manningham on a 27-yarder in the 4th as the Giants pulled away from the inept Falcons in the second half. Manning also threw a 4-yard TD pass to Nicks in the first half, which came after the quarterback scrambled 14 yards to spark the 85-yard drive. While Manning came through with touchdown passes, the tempo was set by New York’s defense, which never allowed Atlanta to get going, and the league’s lowest-ranked rushing game, which ran for a season-high 172 yards. Brandon Jacobs, NY’s top running back, led the way with 92 yards on 14 carries.
‘’We know they are a good team,” Manning said after the game. “We played them tough here, did some good things here, we scored some points. We know offensively we are going to have to play strong, score some points.” “If we can get that run game going like we did in the second half,” Manning continued, “that opens up a lot of windows.”
The Giants defense was at its very best in this Sunday’s game as well as they held the 10-6 Falcons to just 2 points and a total of 247 yards while they sacked QB Matt Ryan twice. The defensive which has come up big in many games this season, came up very big in this game as they kept Atlanta from advancing on three 4th down attempts. Coach Tom Coughlin said after the game “this was a big game for us, and we came through in a big way!”
The win was the Giants’ first post season victory since they beat the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl four years ago, and the first home playoff win since they crushed the Vikings 41-0 in 2000. Now it’s on to face defending champions the Green Bay Packers on the road at frigid Lambo Field on Sunday. The Giants are very much looking forward to the Sunday’s rematch since they came so close to serving the Packers their first loss of the season in a thriller back in week 14. Another reason is, it was just four years ago that kicker Lawrence Tynes’s field goal in overtime beat Brett Favre and the Packers 23-20 and sent the G-men on to the Super Bowl. The Packers finished this season with a league best 15-1, and have clinched home field advantage through the play offs.
This New Year has gotten off to an amazing start for me and all my fellow Giants fans out there. First by beating the division rivals Cowboys to get into the playoffs, then demolishing the Falcons to win round one in MetLife Stadium’s post-season debut. As Giants co-owner Steve Tisch (who happens to be a member of the tribe) said after the beat down: “one down and three more to go.” The flashbacks have begun from four years ago when the Giants snuck into the playoffs as the wild card, won three playoff games on the road, on their way to winning footballs ultimate prize.