Rumor has it that Monday morning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell received a frantic phone call from none other than Archie Manning on the heels of the Atlanta Falcons dismantling of the New York Giants 34-0 Sunday.
The stage father called frantically and pleaded with the commissioner to make sure neither of his boys – Peyton or Eli had to face those mean Atlanta Falcons any more.
The Atlanta defense made a mockery of the Manning QB dynasty this season picking off the dynamic duo FIVE times this season with a combined quarterback rating average of 48.7. Not bad for a team that was left for dead after last week’s loss to the Panthers.
Eli Manning who has had his entire football career choreographed by his father from selecting who should coach him at Ole Miss to who should draft him (remember that draft drama?) to even sticking his nose in the elder brother’s decision where to sign this season to play after being cut by the Colts. There was nothing daddy could do to help his boys this year. Eli was a dismal 13-of-25 for 161 yards and two interceptions as the Giants were shut out for the first time in 16 years.
“This was the first shutout in my NFL career. The important thing was to get the win, and as the game progressed, we made a collective effort as a defensive-unit to keep the score at zero. We played well in all phases of the game, credit to the offense, defense and special teams,” said Falcons’ outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Atlanta’s defense totally dominated the Giants they were held to 258 yards of offense as the Falcons showed the NFL that indeed they were a worthy playoff contender. On the second play from scrimmage Asante Samuel intercepted Manning to set up the Falcons first score, a one-yard run by Michael Turner. Turner carried the ball with authority again gaining 52 yards on 16 carries.
“I was shipped from Philadelphia to make plays for this team. I’m accustomed to playing the Giants two times a year and that experience helped me make plays today,” said Samuel.
The Giants seemed to respond to the score well as they drove deep into Atlanta territory before the drive stalled at the Atlanta 12-yard line. Usually sure-footed kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a 30-yard field goal setting the tone for the rest of the day for both teams.
Atlanta responded to the miss by driving 80 yards in ten plays capping t off by Matt Ryan hitting Tony Gonzalez in the end zone to make it 14-0 with just under two minutes to play in the quarter.
Ryan had a bounce back day under center after weeks of bad decisions and some poor play execution. The fifth-year starter completed 23-of-28 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns. In the second half he hit Julio Jones twice for scores – one from 40 yards and the other from three yards out as Atlanta enjoyed their first real blowout of the season, not counting the 40-24 win over Kansas City to open the 2012 campaign.
“This is a good win today. Having said that, we will not allow ourselves to read too much into it and give ourselves too much credit. What I will also say is that this win is a byproduct of the way we practiced this week. Coach Mike Smith and the coaching staff did an excellent job of getting us prepared both mentally and physically to play a good game. It was good to make amends from the outcome we had last week against the Carolina Panthers,” said Gonzalez.
The Falcons take to the road this week as they play Saturday night at Ford Field against the slumping Detroit Lions. The Lions were expected to make a run for the playoffs have been disappointing despite one of the best arms in the league with Matthew Stafford and who many claim the best receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson. A win clinches hone field advantage throughout the playoffs for Atlanta. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30pm and will be aired on ESPN.
– Dave Weinthal