The Falcons won’t shut up their many doubters until they win a game in the playoffs, but they likely got a few more people believing they could pull that off with their performance against the Giants on Sunday.
Atlanta intercepted Eli Manning’s first pass, turned it into a Michael Turner touchdown and never looked back in a 34-0 rout of the team that humiliated them in a 24-2 playoff loss last season. The Falcons held the Giants scoreless in the first half thanks to another pick by Manning, a missed field goal and two stops on attempted fourth down conversions, but the second half had very little to do with the Giants.
The Falcons scored on their first possession of the third quarter when Julio Jones toasted Giants cornerback Jayron Hosley for a 40-yard touchdown, stuffed the Giants on another fourth down and then pretty much went into cruise control as the Giants seemed to be content to take their beating while turning their attention to next week’s game with the Ravens. If either the Redskins or Cowboys win on Sunday, the Giants are out of first place and the tight Wild Card race in the NFC will make that trip to Baltimore a very necessary win for the defending champs.
Getting it will require much more than they got from Eli Manning on Sunday. He was 13-of-25 for 161 yards to go with his two interceptions and it was another below average performance from a guy who’s been much less consistent than Tom Coughlin would like this season. There are plenty of other issues with the Giants — just one sack today and very little other pressure on Matt Ryan for starters — but they always counted on Manning to bail them out of trouble last year.
The Falcons won’t have any complaints about the way things went on Sunday. Ryan hit on his first eight passes and threw for three touchdowns and the defense didn’t give the Giants anything in the second half. They controlled the ball after halftime, dashing any comeback hopes, and made no mistakes that would have let the Giants back into the contest.
It was an impressive win, albeit one that has to be a prologue to bigger ones for the Falcons to get where they want to go this season.