Michael Turner touches the ball into the endzone for the first score of the game.
Aretha Franklin asked for exactly what the Falcons have been seeking for the last fourteen weeks, respect. If winning enough close games to build a 12-2 record wasn’t enough, surely Sunday’s 34-0 dismantling of the defending Champion New York Giants meant something.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Sunday’s game accomplished the difficult task of allowing fans to, if for just a moment, smile again.
Asante Samuel gave Falcons fans something to smile about early stepping in front of Hakeem Nicks for an interception. The pick gave the NFC South Division winners a short field to work with at the Giants 16. It was an advantage the offense didn’t waste time converting into points. Four consecutive handoffs to running back Michael Turner and Atlanta had the first points and a 7-0 lead.
The Giants attempted to answer on the ensuing drive. David Wilson’s 25 yard run and Domenik Hixon’s 19 yard catch put Manning and crew in striking distance. Once inside the redzone the Falcons defense stiffened. Pressure from the defensive line forced an errant pass from Manning on third and 3 to set up a 30 yard field goal attempt for Lawrence Tynes. The kick from Tynes kick missed wide left.
It was a scenario that would repeat itself for most of the game. “We had some opportunities in the first half to get ourselves in the game and make it competitive,” said Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We weren’t able to accomplish any of that.”
Each time the Giants threatened to score the Falcons returned the favor with an actual one.
Matt Ryan ended the day with a 142.6 passer’s rating having thrown for three scores and 270 yards. Across the field, Eli Manning had perhaps his worst showing ever in the Georgia Dome. Eli, like his older brother Peyton, was victimized by the Falcons secondary multiple times. “I was shipped from Philadelphia to make plays for this team,” said Falcons corner back Asante Samuel. “I’m accustomed to playing the Giants two times a year and that experience helped me make plays today.”
The veteran defensive back wasn’t the only defender making plays. Accolades could be spread across a defense that held the Giants to 40% on ten third down conversions and 0% on 3 fourth down conversions. “They were able to do some things up front that allowed their secondary to make plays and got a couple of interceptions out of it and it really took the wind out of our sails,” said Coughlin.
Atlanta’s mastering of New York is reminiscent of the 27-2 beat down the Falcons experienced in the playoffs last January. Returning the favor was 11 months in the making but a necessary one.
“They put a pounding and (butt) whipping on us,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Sounds like the Falcons earned a measure of respect from the Giants at least.
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