Kevin C. Cox
The New York Giants (8-6) are in must-win mode for the rest of the season, but they got shut out instead by the Atlanta Falcons (12-2), losing in the Georgia Dome 34-0. It's the first time the Giants have been shut out in the regular season since 1996 (24-0 to the Philadelphia Eagles) in a game which looked the complete opposite of that NFC Wildcard game in January.
Matt Ryan was stellar, going 23-for-38 with 270 yards and three touchdowns. wide receiver Julio Jones also had six receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns on the day. The defense struggled in the beginning and started to pick up their game a bit, but still failed to put real pressure on Ryan.
On the first attempted pass of the game, Eli Manning throws a pick to his old nemesis Asante Samuel on a pass intended for Hakeem Nicks. The Falcons respond with Michael Turner rushing the ball into the endzone for a touchdown.
On their second drive the offensive line looked good with their blocking and giving Manning time to make plays, but the last two plays of the drive Manning had to rush passes and was hit on both. Lawrence Tynes comes in for the 38-yard kick, but missed, and the score remains 7-0 Atlanta at that point.
The Falcons gained a lot of yardage on a pass to Douglas, burning Jayron Hosley. Though Will Hill made good coverage, Ryan finds Tony Gonzalez in the endzone for a touchdown to make the score 14-0.
Manning gets sacked on the next drive and the Giants are forced to punt. Chase Blackburn nearly picks off Ryan while making great coverage on Tony Gonzalez, which forces the Falcons to punt. Manning however throws his second interception of the game on a pass intended for Nicks. Thomas DeCoud made great coverage on Nicks and makes the pick.
Giants get their first sack of the day from Chris Canty and force the Falcons to punt. Nicks makes a 23-yard pass on third down to get to their own 43 yard line followed by a Domenik Hixon first down for 37 yards. But the Giants once again fail to convert a 4th and 1 when a pass to Victor Cruz was incomplete to end the half.
The Falcons open the second half with Julio Jones burning Hosley for a 40-yard touchdown pass. On a third down play in the Giants next drive, Cruz took a late helmet-to-helmet hit giving the Giants the first down. He was able to return to the game, but the Giants once again failed to convert on fourth down.
Tom Coughlin challenged what looked like a fumble by Atlanta, but because it wasn't clear who recovered the football the officials could not reverse the call. Eventually Jones would catch his second touchdown pass making the score 34-0 to end the scoring for the day.
Jason Pierre-Paul did come off to the side line for a bit to be looked at by trainers, but looked OK after.
Chris Snee left the game for a while due to an apparent knee injury in the first half, but returned.
Victor Cruz was tested for a concussion after taking that late helmet-to-helmet hit
Jayron Hosley had an ankle injury early in the game, but had it wrapped and came back in
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