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    Excerpt: "
    Apparently, I’m not the first to wonder about the usual success rate of
    quarterback sneaks.

    In response to the Falcons’ failed fourth down (how fitting) against the
    Saints in the regular season,
    tried to figure it out
    . They had trouble distinguishing sneaks from regular
    runs but came up with an 82-percent success rate for fourth-and-1 quarterback

    So what are the odds the Giants would bat 1.000 on three sneaks in two


    * * * *

    One quick disclaimer: In an effort to maximize my time in what’s going to be
    a busy week, I didn’t watch anything after the Giants went ahead 24-2 with 9:55
    to play. So if there’s something after that you want to mention, feel free to
    drop it in the comments section below.

    * * * *


    Coach Tom Coughlin, offensive coordinator Kevin
    , defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and the
    entire coaching staff. This team hasn’t been perfect over the past few years but
    it’s been competitive. Always. And among
    the reasons you folks should “believe to achieve”
    heading into Green Bay is
    the way this staff can game plan on both sides of the ball. Coughlin and his
    guys are among the best at providing plans that give this team a chance to win
    nearly every week.

    DE Jason Pierre-Paul. When you’re as good as he’s been and
    you’re making stops on quarterback sneaks, you can guarantee the end of the
    world if you’d like and I won’t question you. What a job by him on the second
    sneak after the push by DT Chris Canty.

    Canty. He got a pressure and a push to force a cutback on a run for a loss
    early on and then factored into the sneaks. Boy, has he come to play of

    DT Linval Joseph. Put him in the group helping with the stop
    on one of the sneaks. Also, credit him for a great push on a third-and-1 late in
    the third quarter that allowed LB Chase Blackburn to come free
    and make the stop.

    Blackburn. For that stop, one more I’ll mention a bit lower and for coming
    off his couch to tie for the team lead in tackles in a playoff game. Great

    QB Eli Manning. And also to his
    quarterbacks coach
    Mike Sullivan, of course.

    WR Hakeem Nicks. His 4-yard touchdown catch in the second
    quarter was actually a tougher grab than I realized. He had to reach back and
    sort of over CB Dominique Franks for that pass, which wasn’t as
    good as it could’ve been. If that play looked sorta familiar, it’s because it’s
    a variation of the one the Giants ran on David Tyree’s
    touchdown in Super Bowl XLII. It’s not a carbon copy like the
    one they ran in New England earlier this season
    . That one, like the Tyree
    play, came out of a three-receiver set with motion. This one was a two-tight
    end, two-back formation with no motion. Still, the concept is the same, and it’s
    a good one: the play-action fake draws the linebackers up and, since it’s such
    tight quarters down near the goal line, there’s no safety help. So once the
    receiver gets an inside release (which was cake for Nicks because his stutter
    off the line means Franks has to respect the fade), the defense has practically
    no shot of defending a good pass -- or even, as we saw on this one, a
    less-than-perfect throw.

    RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. For
    all of the talk about Manning’s
    14-yard scramble that kick- started the offense
    , it was these two who really
    helped make that first touchdown drive happen. They broke a combined five
    tackles on that drive, and that’s not even including when Jacobs spun off LB
    Curtis Lofton for the 2 extra yards to convert the fourth-and-1
    at the Falcons’ 6-yard line. Speaking of that play, Lofton was a bit
    discombobulated in the hole because LB Sean Weatherspoon, in
    trying to make a play, put a spin move on RT Kareem McKenzie
    and actually clipped Lofton as he was trying to scrape toward Jacobs. That threw
    Lofton off and it looked like his legs weren’t completely under him when he
    tried making the tackle. Clearly, it’s tough to stop Jacobs’ forward momentum
    when you’re not entirely squared and ready to deliver the blow. That was a huge
    play and sort of a bad break for the Falcons because a better-prepared Lofton
    might’ve had a shot to make that tackle before the stick. By my count, Jacobs
    and Bradshaw picked up 51 yards after contact on eight carries on that

    LB Jacquian Williams. Batted down the Hail Mary smartly,
    made a good tackle on a third down (see below) and had a pressure in the third

    LG Kevin Boothe. Jerry Reese’s “priority”
    played another very good game. He helped make Manning’s big scramble possible by
    washing DT Jonathan Babineaux down to the right side of the
    Giants’ line. So once DE John Abraham took the widest of wide
    rushes, Manning had the entire left side of the field to escape. And the way he
    runs, he needs it.

    Reese. Speaking of him, he and his staff continue to prove patience and a
    balanced approach are key to sustained success, despite how impatient we (and
    notice I said “we”) become at times.

    RG Chris Snee. I get the sense he’s played through more
    issues than we realize this year, and probably through his career. Sunday, he
    left the game with what seemed to be a neck burner. He wouldn’t talk about what
    his injury was but from the way they were testing his arm resistance and the
    manner in which he was shaking his arm, I’d say that was a good guess. He
    returned to deliver a nice block on Bradshaw’s 30-yard run. Earlier, he and
    Boothe got out in front of Jacobs on his 34-yard run.

    C David Baas. Still think he should’ve stayed on the bench
    after coming back from his neck issues? Didn’t think so.

    LT David Diehl. Still think he’s a liability at left tackle?
    Didn’t think so.

    WR Mario Manningham. My only gripe is he should’ve done a
    better job going to get the ball on a deep post late in the second half right
    before the bad spot on Nicks (which I’ll explore below). He tried letting it
    come to him instead of going to get it and using his body to block CB
    Chris Owens, who batted it away. But other than that, he had a
    fine day to remind everyone he can catch some passes, too. As for his touchdown,
    as soon as the Giants came out with Bradshaw lined up wide right after already
    running the receiver screen to the running back earlier in the game, I knew they
    were going to fake it and take a shot up top. It was great timing and it worked

    CB Corey Webster. My sense last week was the Giants were
    going to keep him and CB Aaron Ross left and right instead
    of having him follow a particular receiver around
    . That was bad info on my
    part and I apologize because he was all over WR Roddy White and
    did a heckuva job covering him.

    DE Osi Umenyiora. He sacked QB Matt Ryan
    while bulling and reaching over LT Will Svitek. “The whole game
    I’d been giving him the speed rush and I went to the power rush and he wasn’t
    prepared for it,” Umenyiora said. Asked how he got leverage on that sack, he
    replied, “That was hunger, man. You’ve got to be hungry for those sacks.”

    DT Rocky Bernard. Speaking of bull rushes, holy moly did he
    turn guard Joe Hawley into road kill on his sack or what?" Read more...


    Excerpt: "There were several potential game-changing moments from the Giants'
    24-2 beatdown of the Atlanta Falcons
    on Sunday, but if you had to pick just
    one key play, which would it be? We've come up with the following five plays as
    the five biggest from the game. Read about each one and then cast your vote for
    the key play in our poll below.

    Giants' defense stops Atlanta on 4th and 1
    In a 0-0 game
    early in the second quarter, Atlanta was driving and at the Giants' 24-yard
    line. Facing a 4th and inches, Falcons coach Mike Smith elects to go for it, but
    a quarterback sneak by Matt
    Ryan is snuffed out by the Giants' defense
    , forcing the turnover on

    Eli Manning had a key 14-yard
    scramble on third down.

    Eli Manning's 14-yard scramble on third down
    Trailing 2-0
    after a lackluster first quarter on offense, Eli
    Manning runs 14 yards on 3rd and 2 from the Giants' 23
    to keep the drive
    alive. Big Blue goes on to run 10 more plays on the drive before Manning finds
    Hakeem Nicks for a 4-yard touchdown to give the Giants the lead.

    Brandon Jacobs had several big
    runs, including this 34-yarder.

    Brandon Jacobs' 34-yard run on 2nd and 11
    On that same
    drive, Jacobs
    takes a handoff and goes 34 yards
    from the Atlanta 49 to inside the red
    zone. The huge play by Jacobs helps establish the run game, which was arguably
    the best it's been all season. Five plays after the Jacobs run, Manning finds
    Nicks for the TD.

    Matt Ryan was stopped on 4th and
    1 for the second time.

    Giants' defense stops Atlanta on 4th and 1 -- again
    Giants held a 10-2 lead in the third quarter and the Falcons again had 4th and
    1, this time from Big Blue's 21-yard line. And again, Falcons coach Mike Smith
    calls for a QB sneak from Ryan. And
    again, the Giants absolutely snuff it out
    . The Falcons never really
    threatened to score again when the game mattered.

    Hakeem Nicks' long TD gave the
    Giants a 17-2 lead.

    Hakeem Nicks' 72-yard touchdown catch
    Three plays after
    the second 4th and 1 stop, Manning
    and Nicks hooked up for another touchdown
    , this one 72 yards. Nicks caught
    the short pass around the Giants' 32 yard line and ran right through the
    Falcons' defense the rest of the way. The long TD gave the Giants a comfortable
    17-2 lead and took the wind out of Atlanta's sails.

    So, we ask you, which of these five plays was the key play of the
    Giants' 24-2 win over the Falcons. Vote in the poll and then drop down to the comments
    section below
    to post your reasoning and talk about it with other
    users." Read more and VOTE



    Excerpt: "PACKERS RECORD

    15-1, won the NFC North and
    claimed the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

    Packers def. Giants, 38-35,
    at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 4.

    The Giants tied the score with 58 seconds
    left. That was too much time for Aaron Rodgers, who completed two long passes to
    set up the game-winning field goal as time expired.


    •?The Giants kept their vow to get after QB Aaron Rodgers when they last met
    in December, sacking him twice, hitting him six times and notching an
    interception after they forced him to misfire. This defensive line is playing
    well, and finding ways to pressure Rodgers may be the only way to beat the NFC’s
    No. 1 seed. The Packers’ offensive line was hit by the injury bug, but tackles
    Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga are expected to return for the postseason.

    •?WR Greg Jennings is expected to return for the divisional playoff game
    after suffering a knee injury last month, a boost for an offense that hasn’t
    needed a boost. Jennings was Green Bay’s leading receiver in the teams’ previous
    meeting this season, with seven catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. Based on a
    tweet he sent last night, Jennings is itching to avenge a certain NFC
    Championship Game loss four years ago. “The team that kept us from our potential
    Super Bowl in 08 is back on OUR turf now,” he wrote. “Trust me, we haven’t

    •?The Giants have good and bad memories in Green Bay. The good: The NFC
    Championship Game in January 2008, part of their road to the Super Bowl XLII
    championship. The bad: Their 45-17 loss in December 2010, which dashed their
    playoff aspirations for that season. Giants players were adamant about clearing
    their memories of either game, saying forcefully, “this is a different team.”


    Excerpt: "Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora called it “disrespectful” and “rude.”

    Twice during Sunday’s 24-2 Giants victory
    over Atlanta
    in the NFC Wild Card game, the Falcons opted for a
    fourth-and-short quarterback sneak inside Giants territory instead of taking
    their points.

    Twice they were stonewalled by the same Giants defensive line that bottled up
    Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on the same play a week ago.

    But on the bright side, he’s pretty sure opposing teams have gotten the point

    “I don’t think Green Bay’s going to be trying that,” Umenyiora said. “I think
    they’ll probably kick. But if they do (try), they’re going to pass the ball. I
    don’t think they’re going to try to run up the middle. Not with Chris Canty and
    (Linval) Joseph and Rocky Bernard and all those guys in there.”

    With the Falcons’ hammerhead running back, Michael Turner, held to a meager
    41 yards for the game and their two game-breaking wideouts, Julio Jones and
    Roddy White, held to a combined 116 yards, the Falcons seemed desperate to
    create opportunities with the fourth-down gambles.

    Inside a dreary Falcons locker room after the game, those two decisions
    lingered as Atlanta — which last won a playoff game in 2004, and has lost four
    straight in the postseason — packed up for another long ride home.

    Tight end Tony Gonzalez called it embarrassing. Linebacker Curtis Lofton said
    it deflated the entire team.

    “I felt, and we felt as a staff and with our offense we could move the ball
    and we wanted to get seven points just like we did earlier in the ball game,”
    Smith said at the podium afterward. “... That was the play, again, we go through
    the sequence of those things all through the week and felt like that was the
    play we had up and we just didn’t execute it. We felt like at any point and time
    we ought to be able to move less than a half-yard with the quarterback

    But they couldn’t.

    The first fourth-down play came on the first play of the second quarter when
    optimism rode high after 15 solid minutes from the Falcons defense. Right off
    the snap, quarterback Matt Ryan’s head disappeared under a sea of blue jerseys
    as linebacker Michael Boley tumbled over the top of the pile and tugged him

    The second play came with the Falcons trailing by eight with 4:21 remaining
    in the third quarter. This time defensive end Justin Tuck held out his hand and
    stuck it on Ryan’s helmet, pushing him backward while the quarterback tried to
    squirm forward for a yard. It did not come. Ryan threw a fist in the air in
    frustration while Giant defensive coordinator Perry Fewell pumped his on the

    “They made a good play,” Ryan said. “They had guys in the box. I’ve got to do
    a better job of finding the crease and trying to find a hole to get in there and
    get the yard. I didn’t do that.”

    Canty said that based on what they’ve seen on film, the Giants expected to
    see Ryan on those situations and expected the Falcons to gamble on fourth down.

    Smith had been under fire for a similar decision in an overtime loss to New
    Orleans in Week 10. Now there are two gambles that will no doubt follow Atlanta
    until the start of next year — the short distance they had to travel for first
    downs, and the reasons why they couldn’t get there.

    “You figure you can get a couple inches,” White said. “But we came up short,
    and that’s how the game went. If we can get those, maybe the game is different,
    maybe we continue the drive, but we didn’t.”

    Added Falcons defensive end John Abraham:

    “I hope everyone feels this for the whole offseason.”


    Excerpt: "Chris Snee watched from behind as Ahmad Bradshaw burst several yards
    downfield, and the Giants right guard
    triumphantly raised both hands to make the touchdown signal. Bradshaw wouldn’t
    quite reach the end zone on this play, but gained 30 yards — one symbol of his
    team’s dominant effort on the ground in Sunday’s 24-2
    NFC Wild Card win against Atlanta
    at MetLife Stadium.

    Giants amassed 172 yards on 31 carries
    Sunday, their highest total since
    December 2010. And the majority — 96 yards on 15 carries — were earned on runs
    to the right side.

    The Giants ran six times to the left for 33 yards, and eight times up the
    middle for 30 yards (not including Eli Manning’s scrambles). But they most often
    sent their backs behind Snee and right tackle Kareem McKenzie.

    Snee shrugged when asked if that was the game plan, simply calling the
    results a “full line effort.”

    The highlights were Bradshaw’s 30-yarder in the third quarter and Brandon
    Jacobs’ 34-yard run in the second quarter. These were feathers in the cap for a
    run game that has at times this season looked to be stuck in the mud but
    yesterday was likened to Good ol’ Giants football at its best.

    The Giants, in fact, had just four runs of 20-plus yards in 16 regular-season
    games. They reached half that total yesterday, with the pair of long runs
    registering as the second- and third-longest plays of the game." Read more...


    Excerpt: "Hakeem Nicks doesn’t mind all the attention fellow Giants wide receiver
    Victor Cruz has attracted during his breakout season. In Nicks’ opinion, Cruz
    deserves it. If anything, having a player of Cruz’s caliber demanding more
    respect from defenses just gives the other receivers more space to maneuver and
    create plays.

    After watching Cruz torch the Jets and Cowboys defenses with long touchdowns
    each of the last two weeks of the regular season, it was apparent from the
    outset of Sunday’s NFC wild-card game that the Falcons were going to take Cruz
    out of the game and force someone else to beat them.

    And in the first career playoff game for each member of the Giants receiving corps, Nicks and Mario
    Manningham did just that, showing the Falcons and everyone else that the Giants
    have other weapons on the outside besides Cruz. Each came down with touchdowns
    as the Falcons keyed on Cruz, who finished with two catches for 28 yards, in the
    Giants’ 24-2 victory

    Nicks caught six passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns and — in Cruz
    fashion — added a touchdown dance to boot.

    “I didn’t feel like I had to prove anything, I just felt like I had to play
    my game,” said Nicks, who had been hampered by a hamstring injury recently. “I
    know what I am capable of. Victor Cruz is a great addition to our offense and he
    makes plays when he is called on and the same with all the other guys. We make
    plays.”


    Excerpt: "Chris Snee was aware of his quarterback’s shiftiness in the pocket last week
    against Dallas. It was the kind of footwork that makes Eli Manning so effective,
    he said. It wasn’t enough to call him an athlete, though.

    “I will never, ever call Eli Manning an athlete,” the Giants guard said last week. “When you
    watch him run it’s the most awkward thing.”

    Yet, Manning has displayed glimpses of athleticism over the last couple weeks
    — eluding a defender here, spinning off another there — to buy time in the
    pocket and find his receivers. In Sunday’s 24-2
    victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Wild Card game
    , he used his
    awkward run style outside of the pocket.

    In a game full of long runs in which the Giants
    accumulated a season-high 172 rushing yards
    , a 14-yard scramble from Manning
    with nine minutes left in the second quarter may have been the turning point for
    a Giants offense that had been struggling to sustain drives.

    On third-and-2 from the Giants 23-yard-line, Manning dropped back to pass off
    a play-action fake only to find his receivers covered. So, with plenty of open
    field to his left, he tucked the ball and scampered for 14 yards and the Giants’
    first third-down conversion. Ten plays later, he capped the drive with a 4-yard
    touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks that gave the Giants a lead they would never

    “That was instrumental when he pulled that down because we were struggling to
    make a first down,” head coach Tom Coughlin said. “He was able to clear that
    side of the field, get a first down and give us some momentum. The timing of the
    play was outstanding.”

    The scramble may have been a rare sight, but his production through the air
    wasn’t. Manning completed 23 of 32 passes for 277 yards, three touchdowns and no
    interceptions. In the process, he broke Phil Simms’ franchise record of 10
    postseason touchdown passes. For his teammates, it was just another day in the
    pocket for their quarterback.

    “That’s the way he always is. It’s expected,” guard Kevin Boothe said. “We
    expect it so it’s not a big surprise for us when he has great games. He’s been
    playing at a great level this entire season.”


    Excerpt: "Okay, thanks for the clinic, put away the golden trumpets and crashing
    cymbals, we’ve seen enough. It is at this point that we can affirm without any
    infidelity to logic that this is what the
    truly are — what they should have been all along, what they were
    meant to be before they put a revolving door on the trainer’s room, and where
    they should reside after 18 weeks.

    And, we can agree with joyful accord, it is good.

    But we pause here — at the feel-good pinnacle of a season that was in the
    depths of despair just five weeks ago — to offer this reality check: Is this the
    level that is good enough to beat Green Bay?

    Some of our deepest Vegas football thinkers believe they have an answer to
    this, but they really don’t. What matters is what the Giants believe, and after
    a category
    3 beat-down of the Falcons
    Sunday, this is the sum total of the New Blue

    Justin Tuck said this is the best
    their defense has been all season

    Eli Manning said this is the best their offense has been all season.

    Ahmad Bradshaw’s assessment was conditional: When he
    and Brandon Jacobs are allowed to sled behind a very inspired offensive line for
    172 rushing yards
    , “We’re the toughest NFL team in the league.”

    Jason Pierre-Paul, who couldn’t repress the bluster impulse, concluded,
    “We’re going to win. A hundred percent, we’re going to win.”

    Don’t say it: Even you’re impressed by the 24-2
    they put on a good — but hardly great — Atlanta team.

    But, again, what we think doesn’t matter a whit.

    This team believes it is a gathering storm now, which, for starters, makes
    you chuckle about how bizarre this league can get, given where they were
    physically and mentally the last time they had to prepare for the mighty

    Remember, it was just a month and four days ago when they were on a
    three-game losing streak, and we all agreed on what came next: “Green Bay, no
    chance,” we all said.

    And then, despite some iffy officiating, the only difference between the two
    teams was a Mason Crosby chip shot after they spent 59 minutes and 57 seconds
    trading haymakers.

    “We understand that we were a few plays from winning,” is how Victor Cruz put
    Instead, it was their fourth straight defeat."


    Excerpt: "On his final run of the day, it took a triple team to bring down Brandon
    Jacobs — with one man clutching his legs, another wrapped around his waist and a
    third clinging to his shoulders.

    Okay, so man isn’t the right word to describe his tacklers. They were three
    of coach Tom Coughlin’s grandsons, attacking the Giants running back on the blue
    locker room carpet with an enthusiasm the Atlanta Falcons sure lacked in this
    24-2 pounding

    “That was the hardest anyone hit him all day!” somebody called out when the
    roughhousing ended — a wisecrack that led to a big laugh, even if it wasn’t the
    least bit true.

    The Falcons hit Jacobs and his running mate Ahmad Bradshaw plenty. But Jacobs
    and Bradshaw kept coming at them, and the
    fans know what can happen in games like this (even if they haven’t
    seen many of them in a while).

    After all the pounding, the Falcons looked like they were already thinking
    about that warm bus waiting for them in the MetLife Stadium tunnel early in the
    fourth quarter, and maybe a long soak in the ice tub back in Atlanta.

    There were plenty of developments yesterday that made you think the Giants
    had more than a puncher’s chance to upset the 15-1 Packers next week. They were
    again defensively
    , making Falcons coach Mike Smith look foolish for twice
    trying to convert a fourth-and-inches with a quarterback sneak. They had another
    big play from the passing game, with Hakeem Nicks going 72 yards to remind the
    NFL that he, and not Victor Cruz, is the No. 1 target on this team.

    The way the Giants ran the ball, however, had to be the most positive
    development. You knew they would rattle quarterback Matt Ryan. You knew
    quarterback Eli Manning would hit his targets.

    But to run for 172 yards on 31 carries, with both Jacobs and Bradshaw breaking
    free for a run longer than 30? Against a defense that was ranked sixth against
    the run this season?"


    "Last week, it was revealed the Giants
    had given Perry Fewell a private vote of confidence with a one-year contract
    extension through the 2012 season, a development that wasn’t announced at the

    Today, after the defensive coordinator’s unit shut out the Falcons in a 24-2
    NFC Wild Card victory
    (Eli Manning’s safety accounted for Atlanta’s only
    points), Fewell got a much more public boost from Jerry Reese.

    “Perry is a terrific coordinator,” the Giants’ general manager said. “He’s
    taken a lot of heat and that’s what you do in this town, you take heat. It’s
    what this town is all about and you have to relish the heat, and I think we

    Defensive end Osi Umenyiora said Fewell “called the best game I think I’ve
    ever seen called.”

    The Giants defense, which gave up 114 points in three games against the
    Saints, Packers and Cowboys from Weeks 12-14 and finished the regular season
    27th in the NFL with 376.4 yards allowed per game, has allowed only 28 points in
    the past three games. Fewell’s bunch was also the only team to hold an opponent
    under 300 yards (247) this past weekend.

    Before the Christmas Eve victory over the Jets, players lauded Fewell for
    simplifying things on the defense by eliminating on-field checks and audibles
    based on offensive formations. Coach Tom Coughlin grinned when asked about the
    simplification of the scheme, which perhaps suggested it wasn’t that complex to
    begin with, but said if that’s what instills confidence the players should keep
    on believing it.

    Today, Reese agreed with the players by saying Fewell “simplified some
    things.” Still, the defense did adjust the call right before one play yesterday
    and forced Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to take a check-down throw.

    Ryan agreed the Giants did a good job of protecting rookie cornerback Prince
    Amukamara with safety help after he replaced the injured Aaron Ross.

    “I think they had good calls at the right rime,” Ryan said.

    •?Coughlin said Ross, who left with a concussion, “just counted fingers for
    me, so I hope he will be all right.” Ross’ wife, Olympic runner Sanya
    Richards, tweeted during the game
    Ross didn’t have a concussion then sent another
    tweet saying he wouldn’t be allowed back in the game “because of league

    Ross spoke with reporters only briefly as he left the stadium and said he’d
    be fine. Against the Packers, the Giants will need all of the defensive backs
    they can get.

    •?RB D.J. Ware also left with a concussion and didn’t return. Like Ross, he
    didn’t talk much after the game, saying only he’s “good.” ... Falcons RB Jason
    Snelling was getting his face checked out by trainers in the first half — and
    for good reason. Snelling played three quarters with a broken jaw that was
    severely swollen after the game.

    •?TE Jake Ballard said he had no setbacks with his knee injury that had kept
    him out of the two previous games. Ballard had two catches for 16 yards.

    “I’ll probably be limited the first day or so (this week),” he said. “But I
    need to get back in shape. I’m not going to ask them to limit me. I’m hoping
    they kick my (butt) so I get more conditioning.”

    •?Neither team had a turnover for the first time in a game involving the
    Giants since they beat the Panthers on Dec. 21, 2008. The Giants didn’t have a
    turnover for the second straight week and have won their last eight games in
    which they didn’t give the ball away."


    Excerpt: "Justin Tuck couldn’t even keep a straight face and paused for the expected
    laughter when he turned his postgame news conference into an after-school

    “I know it’s kind of clichéd,” the
    defensive captain said after the unit technically pitched a shutout
    in today’s
    24-2 playoff victory over the Falcons
    , “but if you believe, you can

    Go ahead, laugh. It’s okay.

    “Believe” was the theme of Tom Coughlin’s speeches to the team last week, and
    it’s not the first time those talks have seemed more like NBC’s “The More You Know”
    public service announcements than NFL pep talks.

    But know this team does believe in its head coach, in quarterback Eli
    Manning, in its pass rush, in the players that have filled in for those who were
    lost, in the running game and in defensive coordinator Perry Fewell — some of
    which might not have been trustworthy at one point or another this season.

    And it’s showing.

    Oh, and in case you were wondering, they believe in their chances against the
    Packers next Sunday in Lambeau Field — the first playoff game there since
    Lawrence Tynes kicked the Giants and Coughlin’s chapped cheeks to the Super

    “We’re going to win,” said All-Pro defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had
    eight total tackles and shook off a scary collision with Aaron Ross to make one
    of the two stops on a fourth-down quarterback sneak by Matt Ryan. “A hundred
    percent we’re going to win.”



    Sizing up the

    Consider this the get-to-know-you stage of the game. Neither offense showed
    much in the first 15 minutes, but that could be because we’ve gotten so used to
    seeing the track meets this season in the NFL that have led to binge scoring.
    The Giants ran a total of 10 plays in the quarter, as compared to 18 for the
    Falcons. That is part of what explains the significant discrepancy. The Giants
    were actually knocked off their game on the first play from scrimmage, when
    Victor Cruz came across the middle, had a pass glance off his hands and then was
    drilled by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon -— the first of a few big hits
    by Weatherspoon in the early portion of the game. The Falcons turned to the
    no-huddle offense on their third possession, and things started to shake

    Safety first, then it’s all

    Two Eli Manning moments, surrounded by a lot of middling football. Three
    plays after the Giants stopped the Falcons on a fourth-and-1 at the Giants’ 24,
    Manning dropped back and was pressured. He rolled to his right, drifting into
    the end zone, and threw the ball ... to no one. The grounding call, and
    resulting safety, gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead. The next time the Giants got the
    ball, Manning was more the player he has been this season — converting one third
    down with a 14-yard scramble, another with a short dump off to Ahmad Bradshaw —
    capping the drive with a 4-yard bullet to Hakeem Nicks for a TD. Meantime, the
    Falcons stopped and started, but never got far on their own. One quibble: The
    Giants seemed unaware that they faced third-and-1, and hadn’t earned a first
    down, just before the half.

    Making every snap

    Proving all afternoon that it’s not how many times you have the ball, but
    what you do with it when you are on offense, the Giants were quite efficient on
    their two possessions. After shutting down the Falcons immediately after
    halftime, Manning converted on third-and-8 and later third-and-12 before
    Lawrence Tynes’ field goal pushed the Giants’ lead to 10-2. And chalk up the
    next highlight — Hakeem Nicks’ 72-yard touchdown — to a superior scheme and
    inferior tackling. How Nicks came across the field so uncovered means a
    defensive back, or several, on the left side of the field blew a coverage. And
    how Nicks then zipped through the secondary means a host more DBs fell down on
    the job (some literally). In fact, the only negative of the third quarter was
    that Aaron Ross was dinged with a concussion.

    A little icing on a sweet

    This was a victory lap in every fashion, wrapped in 15 minutes of game time.
    A drive that technically started at the end of the third quarter again showcased
    nearly brilliant play-calling. Five of the nine plays resulted in a gain of 7
    yards or longer, the last -- and longest -- a 27-yard strike from Manning to
    Mario Manningham in the back of the end zone. That toss showcased Manning’s
    pinpoint touch. And with a 24-2 lead in hand, the Giants defensive front spent
    the rest of the quarter frustrating Matt Ryan even more than he already was. Two
    tipped balls at the line helped kill one drive, and the final indignity came
    when Osi Umenyiora sacked Ryan -- and one of his offensive linemen -- for an
    8-yard loss on fourth-and-10 from the Giants’ 17-yard line. The Giants ran out
    the clock from there."



    "In arguably their most complete performance of the season, the Giants
    dominated the Falcons in a 24-2 victory today in the first round of the NFC
    playoffs at MetLife Stadium.

    The Giants (10-7) earned a trip to Green Bay to take on the Packers (15-1)
    next Sunday in a divisional round game. Lambeau Field, of course, was the site
    of the NFC Championship Game after the 2007 season -- a classic that the Giants
    won in overtime to land a spot in the Super Bowl.

    Today, Eli Manning threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, and Brandon
    Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 152 yards on the ground. Two of Manning's
    touchdowns were thrown to Hakeem Nicks, who had six catches for 115 yards.

    Just as important, the Giants completely shut down the Falcons' high-powered
    offense, keeping Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Co. out of the end
    zone all afternoon. The Falcons haven't been shut out since the 2004 playoffs.
    The Giants came awfully close."



    Excerpt: "This really was Giants Stadium now, a game out of the past and from across
    the parking lot in the Meadowlands, from all the big Sundays when the old Giants
    beat you with defense. They were up all around us where we were sitting on the
    Giants side of this new stadium, waving their towels, wanting this to be like
    the last home playoff game the Giants had won, a long time ago, an NFC
    Championship Game against the Vikings 11 years ago, when the Vikings got shut
    out, when the Giants wouldn’t give the Vikings an inch that


    So now they were up at the new Stadium, on this day
    when the Giants played like the old Giants, Giants fans telling this defense, Tom
    ’s, Perry Fewell’s, not to
    give Matt Ryan and
    the Falcons an inch on another fourth down.

    They had stopped Ryan on another fourth down in the first half. The place
    yelled its head off for the Giants to do it again. This was before Eli would
    throw it to Hakeem Nicks — Elite
    Manning, taking his team to the Elite Eight of pro football on this day — and
    before he’d throw another one to Mario Manningham.
    It was still only 10-2 for the Giants, still a long way from Lambeau Field, from
    “keeping the dream alive,” as Coughlin would say when it was over.

    A long way from another shot at the Green Bay Packers.

    Fourth-and-inches at MetLife Stadium. Mike Smith, the
    completely overmatched Falcons coach, was sure helping now in this crazy, loud
    moment, going with an empty backfield, telling everybody in the place that Ryan
    was going to try another sneak, doing everything but announcing that over the
    P.A. system. As if anybody would have heard in the Giants part of Jersey.

    Give him nothing, that’s what they were saying on this day when the only
    points the Falcons were going to get off the Giants would come on a first-half
    safety, Eli throwing it to nobody out of the end zone. Pitch the same kind of
    defensive shutout the Giants had pitched the last time the Giants won a playoff
    game in Jersey, 41-0 against the Vikings.

    Ryan took the snap and it was as if all the guys on the defensive line
    stopped him at once, as if they were all the guys on all the lines who ever made
    a big stop for the Giants in a big game. Ryan never got near the line or the
    first down and the place exploded all over again, the white flags maybe looking
    to the Falcons as if they were being told to surrender.

    Before you knew it, Eli had it to Nicks over the middle and Nicks was running
    away from what looked like about six white uniforms, the kind of play Victor
    has been making lately, and it was 17-2 now for the Giants, and it was
    over."


    Excerpt: "GIANTS
    24, FALCONS 2

    The Giants spent the regular season riding the waves of the most explosive
    offense in franchise history. But the first round of the playoffs it was the
    defense that made the biggest splash.

    They turned back the clock with a dominating performance as they smothered
    the Atlanta Falcons, 24-2, in a wild-card playoff game at the Meadowlands on
    Sunday afternoon. The Giants' defense pitched a shutout – the only Falcons
    scoring was a second-quarter safety – as they won a playoff game at home for the
    first time in nearly 11 years.

    The Giants' defense yielded only 247 yards and turned Falcons running back
    Michael Turner
    almost completely irrelevant (41 yards on 15 carries). They
    even saved the game with two huge stops when the Falcons tried quarterback
    sneaks on 4th-and-inches deep in Giants territory, once in each half.

    That cleared the way for the Giants' offense, which rode its best rushing
    attack of the season (172 yards) and got three touchdown passes from Eli
    , including a 72-yarder to Hakeem Nicks late in
    the third quarter that essentially put the game away.

    The Giants (10-7), who had lost their only other two home playoff games under
    Tom Coughlin (2005 and
    2008), now move on to the divisional round of the playoffs in Green Bay next
    Sunday at 4:30 p.m. They had been hoping for a rematch with the top-seeded
    Packers (15-1), ever since they narrowly lost to them, 38-35 at the Meadowlands
    on Dec. 4.

    Back then the Giants' defense was still a bit of a mess – nothing like the
    juggernaut that has flashed a dangerous pass rush the last three weeks. On
    Sunday, Perry Fewell's unit
    was equally masterful against the run and never let the Falcons' array of
    receivers and tight ends find much room down the field.

    Actually, neither offense got off to a flying start – a bit surprising since
    they were both ranked in the Top 10 in the NFL. It was a defensive standoff for
    the first two quarters, with the pass rushes of both teams dominating the

    In fact, right after the Giants' defense stopped the Falcons (10-7) on a huge
    4th-and-1 way down at the Giants' 24, the Falcons' defense struck right back.
    With the Giants facing a 2nd and 19 from their own 13, Atlanta safety James Sanders
    came blitzing by Giants right tackle Kareem
    and forced Manning to throw the ball away in the hopes of avoiding
    the sack.

    Unfortunately for him, he wasn't out of the pocket so he was flagged for
    intentional grounding, and since he was in the end zone at the time it was a
    safety that gave the Falcons an early, 2-0 lead." Read more...


    Excerpt: "

    Cruz didn’t do
    any salsa dancing in the Giants’ 24-2 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Instead it
    was Hakeem Nicks on the
    dance floor, doing his version of the Dirty Bird.

    Moments after scoring a touchdown on a 72-yard catch-and-run in the third
    quarter, Nicks dropped the ball and dashed to the corner of the end zone. The
    Giants’ other 1,000-yard receiver looked at the crowd for a second, then he
    started dancing, reviving the Falcons’ victory dance from their Super Bowl
    season of 1998.

    Antrel Rolle told me
    to do it,” Nicks said afterward.

    Nicks’ dance came after the biggest score of the day, and put him back in the
    Giant spotlight. For most of this season, he has routinely battled double
    coverage and been overshadowed by the charismatic rags-to-riches story that is
    Cruz, the NFL’s third-leading receiver.

    But on Sunday, it was Nicks who broke the NFC wild-card clash open with a
    momentum-shifting TD as Cruz battled the raucous postseason atmosphere.

    Cruz, who admitted that he had “butterflies” and “nervousness” before his
    first-ever playoff game, dropped three catchable balls and finished with just
    two catches for 28 yards.

    Nicks, meanwhile, caught five passes and finished with 115 yards and two TDs,
    serving the Packers a friendly reminder that he is just as dangerous as

    Not that Nicks saw it that way.

    “I didn’t feel like I had to prove nothing,” he said. “I just needed to play
    my game. I know what I’m capable of.”

    The Giants knew Nicks’ talents well, which is why Eli Manning was never
    once worried when Cruz struggled."


    Excerpt: "The Giants were still struggling midway through the second quarter, and then
    they did what they always do. They looked to Eli Manning to get them

    And he did.

    With his feet.

    Really. That’s how Manning jump-started the Giants’ offense on Sunday, with a
    14-yard run on a third-and-2 from deep in Giants territory. It was the Giants’
    biggest offensive play of the game to that point, though it was only the first
    of many in the Giants’ 24-2 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

    Manning ended up completing 23 of 32 passes for 277 yards and three
    touchdowns in what statistically was the finest playoff performance of his
    career. But it was his long run that had his coaches and teammates talking in
    the post-game locker room.

    “You know he did look a little awkward with the slow strides,” said running back Brandon
    . “But he got it done. He got the first down and he kept moving.”

    “That was instrumental when he pulled that down because we were struggling to
    make a first down,” added Tom Coughlin. “He was
    able to clear that side of the field, get a first down and give us some
    momentum. The timing of the play was outstanding.”

    At that time the Giants had just five carries for eight yards and Manning was
    struggling to find open receivers. He dropped back, felt some pressure and saw
    no one on the left side of the field.

    So he just took off.

    “I kind of knew right away they had a pretty good coverage,” Manning said. “I
    did the play-action, I scooted up just trying to find a lane to see if maybe a
    guy won and I just saw an opening. I had to get two yards, so I just tucked it
    and ran." Read me...


    Excerpt: "Ahmad Bradshaw said
    he felt “confidence” in the run game, and Brandon Jacobs said
    there was “no question” the Giants wore the Falcons down. Eli Manning said the
    Giants had “a great mix” of run and pass, and David Baas said the
    run-blocking finally felt “right.”

    Meet the new, swagger-filled Giants rushing attack. Big Blue entered Sunday’s
    NFC wild-card showdown with the league’s worst rushing offense, a unit that
    averaged an embarrassing 89.2 yards per game during the

    The Giants left the Meadowlands after exploding for 172 yards on the ground,
    gaining a serious injection of confidence. Jacobs rushed for 92 yards and
    Bradshaw added 66, and the Giants averaged 5.5 yards per carry in their most
    dominant outing of the season.

    “At this time of year, I think that’s what we’re going to have to do to stay
    in games,” said Jacobs. “We can throw it as well, but why not use all your

    Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride
    seemed determined to do that on Sunday. Earlier in the week, he had merely hoped
    for balance to take the pressure off Manning, but on Sunday, he kept calling run
    plays, even after the Giants managed just six rushing yards in the first

    The approach started to pay dividends with 10:19 to go in the second quarter,
    when the Giants began a 13-play, 85-yard touchdown drive.

    The drive ended with a 4-yard Hakeem Nicks TD catch,
    but it was Jacobs and the ground game that got the Giants there. Jacobs would
    rush for 46 yards on that drive. His 34-yard run up the right sideline got the
    Giants into the red zone. And on fourth-and-1 from the Falcons’ 6-yard line, he
    got the ball again, ran to the line of scrimmage, and spun off Atlanta LB
    Curtis Lofton
    for a two-yard first down.

    “Given the fact that they were an east-west defense, guys that are really
    fast and like to do a lot of slants and angling, we knew we just had to run it
    downhill on them,” said Jacobs, who finished with 92 yards." Read more...


    Excerpt: "Above all the X’s and O’s in Sunday’s convincing wild-card win by the Giants
    was the physical tone set by the victors. Falcons coach Mike Smith
    admitted the game was lost when the line of scrimmage was lost and the game plan
    went out the window.

    “When you say you’re tough, people are going to want to see how tough,” said
    Giants DT Chris Canty. “We played
    with a mentality and intensity today that’s going to make us a hard football
    team to beat.”

    That isn’t to say the Giants’ game plans weren’t
    superb. The confidence Perry Fewell has shown
    in his players has begun to pay dividends and the patience in the approach shown
    by offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride were
    critical elements in allowing the Giants to impose their will.

    Here is a
    look at key factors in the win:

    The Falcons had weapons in
    the passing game but their offense was one that wanted to put together long
    drives to set up what Smith calls “explosive plays.” The Giants’ philosophy was
    a simple trickle-down approach. “Stop (Michael) Turner. Period,” said DE Dave Tollefson.
    “But to stop him you’ve got to hit him early in the down and not let him get
    rolling. He’s a big body back, kind of like Brandon (Jacobs). You have to tackle
    him with multiple bodies and I felt we did a hell of a job with that today, just
    being in the right spot. And if there’s a little light showing, put your head in
    there and hit him.”

    Fifteen carries for 41 yards would qualify as
    stopping the compact back, who was seldom able to get his shoulders square and
    run with any power. The Falcons did everything they could to get him going
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1

  • #2

    Thanks Roanoke!!


    • #3

      excellent job (as usual).
      due to the fact that I am from the Woodstock generation ...
      my opinions may be chemically enhanced and influenced by severe episodes of memory loss


      • #4
        Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

        [quote user="Captain Chaos"]Thanks Roanoke!![/quote]

        “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


        • #5
          Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

          [quote user="stormblue"]excellent job (as usual).[/quote]

          “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


          • #6
            Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

            thanks for the news and rumors Roanoke!

            great week this week, gettin ready for the Pack!

            i think the Giants have better than a punchers chance in this one!

            Go Giants!



            • #7
              Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

              Thanks RF. Congrats Giant's Fans!!! This week is a great one to be a Giant fan.


              • #8
                Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

                sweet sweet win yesterday....

                great day....all around.

                Thanks Ro....

                "Measure Twice......Cut Once"
                You couldn't be more full of **** if you were break dancing in a Port-a-Potty.......Kruunch


                • #9
                  Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

                  [quote user="BigBlue1971"]

                  thanks for the news and rumors Roanoke!

                  great week this week, gettin ready for the Pack!

                  i think the Giants have better than a punchers chance in this one!

                  Go Giants!


                  We can get it done if we keep improving as we have these last few weeks [B]
                  “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


                  • #10
                    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

                    [quote user="GameTime"]

                    sweet sweet win yesterday....

                    great day....all around.

                    Thanks Ro....


                    Still in after glow lol
                    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


                    • #11
                      Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

                      [quote user="RoanokeFan"][quote user="GameTime"]

                      sweet sweet win yesterday....

                      great day....all around.

                      Thanks Ro....


                      Still in after glow lol

                      you get my txt???

                      "Measure Twice......Cut Once"
                      You couldn't be more full of **** if you were break dancing in a Port-a-Potty.......Kruunch


                      • #12
                        Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

                        [quote user="GameTime"][quote user="RoanokeFan"][quote user="GameTime"]

                        sweet sweet win yesterday....

                        great day....all around.

                        Thanks Ro....


                        Still in after glow lol

                        you get my txt???


                        Yes, that was so cool. I wrote a response and forgot to send it...until just now lol
                        “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


                        • #13
                          Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 20112 - 7:43 A.M.

                          [quote user="lttaylor56"]Thanks RF. Congrats Giant's Fans!!! This week is a great one to be a Giant fan.[/quote]

                          “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1