EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 01: Fans celebrate after the New York Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Good morning fellow Giants fans. We are two days away from our first playoff game in three years, and I, for one, am chomping at the bit. Last Sunday was technically not a playoff game, but for all intents and purposes, it was, and that's a good thing. Really, the last two games were must-win; and if you want to dig deeper, the last four games because there were two against Dallas, a team that was 7-4 and in control of the NFC East after Thanksgiving. And the Giants threw all that late-season-collapse talk out the window, save for the Washington game, by stepping up and making big plays. This team is battle tested, and they are ready for what lies ahead Sunday. Because of that, I like our chances. Let's see what's being said out there.....
First of all, DC Perry Fewell was asked if he simplified the game plan last Sunday:
I think the young guys that were playing grew up a little bit and started learning more. I think as they learned more and got better, again, our communication level got better and by us not playing so many young guys at the same I think we got better also. I think those two things contributed to us getting healthier.
Here is Fewell's transcript
Head coach Tom Coughlin was asked if he ever thought the Giants would be so pass-heavy:
A lot of times you do what you have to do. You make the adjustments and so-on and so-forth. I think we've had four or five games in a row where we've had pretty good balance and that's the way we like to play. In circumstances where it wasn't so obvious that we could run, we'd do whatever we had to do. The quarterback naturally has responded very well to that.
Here is Coughlin's transcript
Let's be fair and see what OC Kevin Gilbride had to say about the lack of a rushing game this season:
I am disappointed that the running game wasn't better and I expected it to be better than it was and for whatever the reason is it has not been. We have gotten better and that gives a little bit of a chance to make the defense play honest. We think we can throw the ball pretty well.
Here is what I heard there: "blah blah blah shotgun draw blah blah blah." But seriously, here is the rest of Gilbride's transcript.
The mother ship has the playoff teams ranked, and has the Giants seventh and the Falcons ninth among the remaining twelve teams. I agree with that more than I agree with SI.com's Don Banks, who has the Falcons eighth and the Giants tenth. Speaking of the mother ship, here is our own Ed Valentine's position breakdowns of the offenses.
NY Giants head coach Tom Coughlin feels he sees Big Blue's true colors entering wild-card weekend vs. Atlanta Falcons - NY Daily News
Coughlin was thrilled with practice, with the vibes and the effort from his team. The Giants were flying out there at the Timex Performance Center, making plays and hitting their marks. But you know what? Nobody knows which Giant team shows up on Sunday against the Falcons, not even the Giants. Not after the sort of nutty season they’ve had.
NFL Playoffs 2012: Two Experts on What to Expect | NewsFeed | TIME.com
What are key takeaways for Atlanta (10-6) at New York Giants (9-7)? Cowher: New York is getting healthy on the defensive line and when they are all healthy, they can get pressure (on the quarterback). But can they stop a team playing as good as anyone? Look for a big week from Michael Turner (Atlanta running back). He is the key to Atlanta and New York has trouble stopping the run. Dungy: The Giants have been hot and Atlanta has been a little under the radar. New York has a great pass rush.
2012 NFL Playoffs -- Mathias Kiwanuka -- New York Giants 'definitely a Super Bowl team' - ESPN New York
The Giants' confidence is swelling after winning two must-win games against the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys. Defensively, the Giants held both the Jets and Cowboys to 14 points each and have a total of 11 sacks and three interceptions in both wins.
Even in chilly Meadowlands, Giants pass rushers bringing heat - NFL - CBSSports.com News, Rumors, Scores, Stats, Fantasy Advice
The fact that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was dropped six times in the New York Giants' division-clinching win on New Year's Day isn't terribly surprising. Only the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings had more sacks than defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's unit had this season. What was startling -- and potentially ominous for the 10-6 Atlanta Falcons, who visit the Giants in the wild card round of the playoffs this Sunday -- was where the pressure was coming from.
That's right, Matty Ice. Hope you brought your dancing shoes.
New York Giants team report: Kiwanuka, DTs step up against the run - NFL - Sporting News
Starting defensive tackles Chris Canty and Linval Joseph have been solid in the middle of the defense, with Canty particularly effective at producing tackles for losses. There also has been an increased presence by outside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka in run support. Kiwanuka was a dominating factor in the first half against the Cowboys as the Giants surged to a 21-0 halftime lead.
Smith to unleash the Predator in New York | Atlanta Falcons
Falcons defensive end John "The Predator" Abraham will be like a NASCAR race car and have his restrictor plate removed for the wild-card playoff game against the New York Giants at 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium. "We’ve had him on a play count all season long, and now it’s an opportunity for us to go and extend his snaps as we get into the postseason," Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
The city of Atlanta is the worst sports town in America - ESPN New York
It's not fair. And, we know, it really shouldn't matter. But Atlanta -- the city, not the team -- doesn't deserve a playoff victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. It has nothing to do with football. It's deeper than that. Fans in Atlanta haven't exactly been going out in huge numbers to see the Braves recently. Without question, Atlanta is the worst sports town in America. If the New York Yankees are the standard for excellence in baseball, Atlanta is the epitome of the bottom of the barrel when it comes to fan support.
Interesting. But I have lived in New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. And I can tell you that the three northern states are way more passionate about pro sports.
Tom Coughlin as NY Giants back in playoffs after players – like Antrel Rolle – buy into 'The Coughlin Way' - NY Daily News
He had done it before. He was known for it. So imagine their surprise when, after their fifth loss in six games, with their once-promising season in ruins, with their coach seemingly on the way out, and with their crosstown rivals already loudly claiming victory over their city, their embattled coach stepped onto the stage in front of them, smiled and said, "Get your heads up … Get the frowns off your face." Those words not only shocked a Giant team expecting to be ripped apart by its coach, it sparked a turnaround that led to two straight wins, the NFC East title and earned Big Blue Sunday’s wild-card game against Matt Ryan and the Falcons at MetLife Stadium.
Politi: Giants' Tom Coughlin, still going strong at 65, has a chance to leave on his terms | NJ.com
if the past two weeks ensure that Coughlin will be back next season — and they almost certainly have — then a deep run in the playoffs could guarantee more than that. Coughlin has a chance to make an exit that’s become rare in coaching on any level now. He has a chance to leave on his own terms.
Tight end Jake Ballard will flip the light switch for the Empire State Building today at 4:30 p.m. Here is what the media alert from the team said:
The Empire State Building will honor the New York Giants and cheer hometown Big Blue on as they head into the NFC Wild Card game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday by shining its world famous tower lights in Giants blue from Friday, January 6 to Sunday, January 8.
Okay, time for a couple things to prepare you for Sunday. First, my recipe for Buffalo chicken nachos. Please ignore that I posted this last year at a certain time of year, because I don't want t jinx anything. But I thought you guys would appreciate the recipe for all the playoff games this weekend. Maybe try these sausage and peppers too.
Finally, something that might light our fire lyrically, The Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait."
It's go time, fellas. Let's do this thing....