(L-R) Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants celebrates after the GIants won 24-2 against the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
When the New York Giants dispatched the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East and qualify for the playoffs, they earned a home game against the Atlanta Falcons as their first-round game. This is a match-up you had to feel good about -- the Giants were at home, they came into the game on an emotional high after beating the New York Jets and the Cowboys to qualify, and they were facing an Atlanta team that has yet to experience postseason success with head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan.
The fact that the Giants defeated the Falcons to advance to the divisional round against the Green Bay Packers could not have been a real surprise. The fact that the Giants devastated the Falcons, rolling to a lopsided 24-2 victory, was undoubtedly unexpected.
The Giants defense put together its best effort of the season, allowing Atlanta only 247 yards of total offense and no points. Atlanta's only points came on a second-quarter safety that gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead. After that, the game was all Giants.
Nicks had a monster game, which was a sign of playoff things to come. He caught six passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard catch-and-run.
Manning went 23-of-32 for 277 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 129.3. Manning also made a huge play that can be easily forgotten, running for 14 yards and a first down with the Giants trailing, 2-0, and facing a third down in the second quarter. That scramble set up the Giants first score, and sent them on their way.
Brandon Jacobs had 92 yards rushing on 14 carries, including a 34-yard run. The Giants gained 442 yards in total offense, nearly 200 more than Atlanta.