I re-watched the game this morning on television, and was surprised at some of the things Fox missed. This was a game of key turning points and great game planning on behalf of the Giants. It was also a game where the aggressiveness of a coach may have cost his team a chance at a win. Here are the keys as I saw them:
First Quarter: The tone for this game was set immediately by the Giants defense. (11:43) On the first possession by the Falcons Justin Tuck gets a big hit on Matt Ryan as he releases the ball. Many Giants players feel that this early hit sped up the clock in Ryan’s head.
9:49 At this point the Falcons look to get Tony Gonzalez into the game. The Giants defense however has the answer. On successive plays both Tuck and JPP line up over Tony. Ryan takes the snap and looks immediately to his side, except he is lying on the ground. Tuck and JPP dominated Tony G. all day, pushing him back on running plays, and denying him from running his routes.
5:20 J.P.P. again dominates Tony G. and stops Michael Turner for a loss.
:44 Just before the end of the quarter Tuck again gets a nice hit on Ryan. Then Snelling goes nowhere on 3rd and 1…and then the first mistake by the Falcons coaching staff. You need to get points…be the first on the board…show something for your efforts. Instead the Falcons try to draw the Giants offsides with multiple shifts and hard counts. The idea is to get the Giants to relax and hang back, not wanting to jump offsides. When Ryan snaps the ball, the Giants are ready and make the crucial stop.
The second quarter begins with the Giants corners being very physical with the wideouts of Atlanta. Many times you can see Ryan take a quick step and then hold the ball. The timing of the Falcons was completely thrown off by the Giants defensive plan.
9:00 The leader of the Giants all year has been Eli Manning, and again today it took a play by him to get things going. The 14 yard run for a first down energized his team, and the stadium.
8:30 Brandon Jacobs runs over the Falcons safety and again gets the crowd and his teammates fired up.
6:30 Eli makes another heady play avoiding a sack by flipping the ball to Bradshaw.
5:56 A great moment for all Giants television watchers. As Joe Buck extolls the virtues of the Falcons defensive front, and states: “for all the talk about the Giants defense, it’s been the Falcons front that has dominated so far” At this very moment Brandon Jacobs breaks one for 34 yards. Timing is everything Joe!
5:10 Bradshaw appears stopped in the backfield, but breaks tackles and runs for 9 yards.
3:37 4th and one. As the ball is handed to Jacobs off tackle, the gentleman standing in front of me at the game says ” I hate this play” and with that Jacobs spins off the linebacker and falls forward for the first down.
2:47 All the running pays off as Eli play actions, and finds Nicks in the end zone for the TD. 6 runs and a play action pass.
I guess Mike Smith made two statements at halftime that were very telling. He said they are blitzing more than normal, and that the crowd noise is affecting a man they call “Matty Ice” a nickname yet to be earned.
13:01 The scariest moment I have ever witnessed at a game. J.P.P. and Aaron Ross collide in mid air. Both remained motionless for an extended period of time. The players huddled together and prayed as the doctors looked at both of them. We thought one of them would surely be hurt seriously. The crowd started to chant J.P.P. as the doctors examined the players. Osi was leading the crowd in the chant. When he finally got to his feet the crowd cheered, and then did the same for Ross when he arose. Thank God they are both in good health.
11:55 Eli the master hits Nicks on 3rd and 8 for 19 yards with a perfect throw.
11:20 Snee goes out with an injury. Petrus in.
10:16 3rd and 12 after a holding penalty, and Eli scrambles a bit, then finds Cruz for 22 yards and a first down.
9:35 With Snee back in, Eli sees an opportunity and changes the play. Bradshaw rumbles for 30 yards down to the 5.
8:00 Ballard drops T.D. pass.
7:55 Unbelievable non-call on Hakeem Nicks. Pass interference could be defined by this play, yet not called. FG 10-2
Then the Falcons fall apart…
5;10 Tony Gonzalez gets manhandled by Boley, and Ryan misses him by 10 yards. The Falcons then have 12 men in the huddle and try to call a timeout to avoid the penalty. Tom Coughlin sees it and gets the call.
4:20 Another 4th and 1….empty backfield….Sneak obvious…. Ryan goes backward and the Giants hold, win physical battle.
2:56 Nicks is left open as the Falcons continue to cover Victor Cruz with three players…74 yards T.D. 17-2
With the lead at this point the Giants stayed aggressive…and The Falcons decide they are done tackling.
Eli continues to change plays and find the match-ups he wants. He also gets Mario Manningham involved. This gives the Giants three plus legitimate threats.
10:01 Eli throws a perfect ball to Manningham for the final score.
9:35 Ryan gets buried by Tuck one last time.
1:04 Osi puts the finishing touches on the shutout.
I can’t say enough about the play of Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, Michael Boley, and the hitting of Antrell Rolle. A complete effort and a great win.