Game story: Falcons outmuscled by Giants, 24-2

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) takes down Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33). AP

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) takes down Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33). AP

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Much to the dismay of the Falcons’ front office and despite their best efforts, the Falcons are not a championship level NFL team.

The Falcons were defeated by the New York Giants 24-2 and rudely escorted from the playoffs at MetLife Stadium before a raucous crowd of 79,909 fans on Sunday.

After playing a gutsy first half, the Falcons were treated like imposters trying to crash a glitzy Broadway party in the second half.

New York wide receiver Hakeem Nicks mocked the team’s tradition by doing the Dirty Bird dance after a 72-yard third-quarter touchdown and the festive Giants fans at the stadium spent parts of the fourth quarter chatting, “Hey, hey hey…Good-bye.”

Last season, the Falcons came out of the regular season winners of the NFC South. Because of some major offseason moves they were considered by some to be a Super Bowl contender.

They spruced up the offense by trading five picks to move up 21 spots in the draft to select wide receiver Julio Jones. They also signed defensive end Ray Edwards, cornerback Kelvin Hayden and safety James Sanders.

But things didn’t gel during the season as the Falcons tried to get more explosive and get to the level of offensive powerhouses like Green Bay and New Orleans.

Edwards never provided much of a pass rush, Hayden ended the season on injured reserve and Sanders was a dependable reserve.

With the offense searching for its identity and the defense remaining weak against the pass, the team was not able to climb to elite status in the conference.

With the stinging defeat, the Falcons were eliminated in their first game in the playoffs for the third time over the past four seasons.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank was hoping for a breakthrough with a playoff win this season.

“I don’t think the team took a step back, but I think obviously we’re disappointed,” Blank said.

It was the first time the Falcons made the playoffs in consecutive seasons. However, with the defeat, the Falcons have not won a playoff game since beating St. Louis, 47-17, on Jan. 15, 2005 in the divisional round.

“We struggled in several areas of the ball game,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “They won the battle of the line of scrimmage and that was one of the ‘musts’ we had to accomplish and we didn’t get it accomplished.”

The Giants, the NFC East champions, advance to play the Green Bay Packers at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Giants shut down the Falcons rushing attack, harassed quarterback Matt Ryan and stopped the Falcons on two key fourth-and-short situations.

“They did win the line of scrimmage and there is no doubt about that,” Smith said. “It was very evident as you watched the ball game in person. [When] we watch the film, I think we’ll see that being confirmed.”

The Falcons needed to run the ball in order to open up their passing attack. Running back Michael Turner was held to 41 yards on 15 carries.

With the run held in check, New York’s talented and athletic defensive line could rush Ryan with abandon.

Ryan, who completed 24 of 41 passes for 199 yards, did not have enough time to pass the ball deep to his fleet wide receivers, who were held up at the line of scrimmage by the New York defensive backs.

“Their front four played very well,” Ryan said. “That’s kind of what we expected. . . we were in a rhythm at some points and just didn’t make the plays on crucial third and fourth downs when we needed them to keep drives going. I think that’s probably why we stalled out a little bit.”

The Giants led 7-2 at halftime as both offenses struggled early.

The Falcons went into their no-huddle attack on their third possession and started to move the football. They put together three first downs to move from their 10-yard line to the Giants’ 25. The drive stalled when Ryan was stuffed on a fourth-and-1.

After a holding call on Giants guard Chris Snee on first down, New York quarterback Eli Manning was being chased in the end zone by Sanders and committed an intentional grounding penalty. The Falcons were awarded a safety to make it 2-0.

The offense couldn’t take advantage of a short-field after a 21-yard punt return by Eric Weems and were forced to punt after the drive stalled at New York’s 41.

The Giants offense finally came alive. They converted on two third downs and running back Brandon Jacobs broke loose for a 34-yard run down to Atlanta’s 15-yard line.

The defense stiffened and held the Giants to fourth-and-1 from the 5. Jacobs was hit in the backfield by middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, but spun forward for the first down. On the next play, Manning tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Nicks, who had gotten inside of Dominique Franks, to make it 7-2.

The Giants went ahead 10-2 on a 22-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes with 7:55 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons were on the move again. They drove from their 21 to New York’s 21. A third-and-15 pass to Roddy White came up inches short of the first down. On the fourth-and-inches, the Falcons went to an empty backfield as they tried to spread out the Giant’s defense. From that passing formation, Ryan ran another quarterback sneak and couldn’t find a seam as his line was overpowered again.

Three plays later, Nicks caught a 12-yard pass at the Giants’ 33, faked out safety Thomas DeCoud and then out-ran five defenders for a 72-yard touchdown to make it 17-2. That’s when he started dancing, doing the Dirty Bird dance that was popularized by the 1998 team that reached the Super Bowl.

On New York’s next possession, Manning tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham with 9:55 left for the game’s final points.

“Hopefully, this is a lesson learned going into next season,” said tight end Tony Gonzalez.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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86 comments Add your comment

robertussen

January 8th, 2012
9:05 pm

done

January 8th, 2012
9:08 pm

falcons can have their $1600 season tickets back.

alex

January 8th, 2012
9:11 pm

smith is a fair coach, blank doesn’t fool around-you do not perform and you are gone-smith is gone and good riddance ( take the oc and dc and ryan with you to the canadian league…

Up jumped the devil

January 8th, 2012
9:11 pm

Spruced up offense by trading picks for jj what a joke they had 0 points today

Atlanta Native

January 8th, 2012
9:20 pm

Nothing like “learning from past losses” then opening the game with Turner up the middle, Turner off tackle, over throw on 3rd and long, punt. I knew right then that we were in trouble.

MM has to go even if Jax doesn’t take him off our hands. Two out of the last three games offensive game plans can be labeled “inept”.

BVG has to go. Yet another showing of flash to open the game and wither down the stretch with the soft zone.

I am so disgusted with the direction (or lack of it) with this team. We are not close to being elite. We deserve to be ridiculed. I’ve been saying it all season, we will not progress any further in the “process” with MM and BVG in their current roles.

There are going to be changes in the offseason and hopefully they will start tomorrow morning.

Jake

January 8th, 2012
9:20 pm

This is a very disappointing lose. We need to the hand the ball to mike turner and run outside this is
BS!! up the middle. Maybe we get find OC from pee wee football to turn us around

wolley stekcaj

January 8th, 2012
9:22 pm

A shamefull performance, but very predictable. 1. Time outs available in first half moving into field goal area, no time out taken, clock to 4 seconds, no chance(shamefull)! First 4th and 1 go for it, wrong play but at least courage, next 4th and inches, empty backfield, no play action possible, 10 in the box, the whole country knows the deal, (shamefull).

If I can predict the Falcons offense and I live with my mother in the basement and have no girl friend and only live for Falcons football, then what do you think all of New York expects(Shamefull).

Mr. Blank, sorry you live in LA LA land, this is not good. 1. Fire Smith and the entire staff, tell Coach Coward he can have what he wants, just get us a plyoff win!!!!

Sorry, ATL, no guts in the front office, we will have the same old same old. If things are not working and you do not change then (Shamefull)!!!!!!!

Drew

January 8th, 2012
9:24 pm

I’m sorry Mr. Blank but you better believe we took a step back. How can you say we didn’t take a step back? Just be real with the fans please sir.

CT Falcons Fan

January 8th, 2012
9:26 pm

D-Led, appreciate your candor for a change. Bradley’s recap talks about the Giants low rankings in team defense and he’s still in denial thinking that the Falcons had the more talented team. They didn’t. Anyone following the NFL knew the Giants were peaking over the last several weeks. I will say that this is a bad time to be in the NFC–AFC is much weaker. I also feel like this team IS more talented than Mora’s group that beat the Rams, and Reeve’s team that beat GB. I realize Smitty won’t be fired but I think he needs to progress in 2012 or he will be…the team lacks fire or something. Very disappointing. I will root for the NFC going forward–great matchups with GB-NYG and San Fran-NO. I’ll cheer any of them on vs. some overrated, media-hyped AFC team in the Super Bowl.

Mexoplex of Charlotte

January 8th, 2012
9:32 pm

y’all wasted a playoff spot. you should have let the Panthers play if your KICKER isnt even going to score. We would have at least made it entertaining. Matty Ice has melted.

robertussen

January 8th, 2012
9:37 pm

panthers….panthers, they lost twice to these falcons,

Stumpknocker

January 8th, 2012
9:46 pm

Hate to say I told you so, but the failure to resign OL Harvey Dahl has been apparent all season. If the OL doesn’t do it’s job, the remainder of the O won’t do their’s either. People want to blame M Ryan…….. last year he was a QB with confidence in the pocket……….this year he’s been a scared deer in the head lights and the main reason is the sorry play of the OL.

Atlantaman

January 8th, 2012
9:58 pm

Post game comments from Smith & Ryan: what really struck me was how accepting they were of the loss, like it was expected. No passion, no anger at such poor play & coaching, no comments like “we really stunk today.” No passion.

jon

January 8th, 2012
10:02 pm

atlanta sports teams- where mediocre play is accepted

jsmoove's 20ft jumper

January 8th, 2012
10:04 pm

its the curse of the RISE UP campaign…which has always been beyond lame and HAS to go.

Chopper

January 8th, 2012
10:07 pm

FOR SALE

1 used and abused football team likes red and black colors and do well in season…….then go in playoffand be one n dun. Do it ever year. Can keep same ole mangers and coaches ..Idun ‘t care.

Will sell or trade whole works for good used dependable volkswagon or a well used fiat !
otherwise askin price can be nogotiated

Contact me at Auther Blank @ we know where duh falcons are going

chance

January 8th, 2012
10:13 pm

Im a vikings fan and why in the helll did you guys get ray edwards ?? he stunk. you appearently need a GM. You guys are always ‘in the way’ sh*t or get off the pot

Sly

January 8th, 2012
10:19 pm

The money you gave Ray Edwards you should have paid to Dahl. Edwards has had 0 impact, we could plugged in the guys backing him up and got the same production! MM and BVG have to go. Secondary needs major overhaul. Need OC with an imagination we have too much talent on that side of the ball for these vanilla game plans!

ynot

January 8th, 2012
10:22 pm

If this is as far as Smitty can take them, Time to let him go.

Rip

January 8th, 2012
10:31 pm

it is time to clean house, Smith and coaching staff is not smart enough and think outside the box on offense nor defense. I know we are stuck with Matt Ryan but we really need a strong arm mobile QB and not a weak arm stiff, who is a sitting duck in the pocket

wreckmaniac

January 8th, 2012
10:31 pm

Calvin Johnson and now Demarius Thomas. Is Tech becoming the top resource for NFL receivers ?

Coach Tom

January 8th, 2012
10:35 pm

Let me ask a question, if every team in the NFL know that they must stop Mike Turner to beat the Falcons, what does that tells you? Ryan is a limited QB that needs a strong running game to be effective and the clock is ticking on his chances to win a Super Bowl. The closer he gets to 30, the weaker the arm will become. I know some say because he has no blocking up front, he looks like a deer in headlights, but some of the other QB tend to keep their eyes down field when the protection breaks down. Elite QBs tend to make plays when the protection breaks down.

don

January 8th, 2012
10:43 pm

0 points against the 27th ranked defense, huh? Thats a joke, right? Wholesale, shocking changes are in order.

caw0726

January 8th, 2012
11:43 pm

When we loss the Coin Flip, I knew it was over. If we don’t drive down and score right away….its usually over for the Falcons. It was reminicent of Packers playoff game last year……. Embarassing!
Getting slammed After Xmas game vs Saints…embarassing again! No NFL teamLhas repesct for our team. Arthur Blank must reduce the ticket prices, get rid of ‘Edward and Robinson and coudnt your losses

Pleasea use

Mularkey was so focused on his job interview with Jags…very very obvious. He gave us a crappy crappy game plan!

Kam

January 8th, 2012
11:52 pm

First off, Mike Smith gives the exact same LAME freaking excuses after every loss (lots of blowouts to boot) to decent teams and no positive result has come from them!!! We’ve been the same team that can’t stop anyone on third down and we can’t score points ourselves! It’s not a coincidence that we make other teams look a lot better than they actually are (Sorry Giants fans, but this year’s Giants aren’t THAT good), all the time! I am utterly pissed off that no one is examining the real reason behind the Falcons poor play! The offense’s main issues belong to schemes and, believe it or not, quarterback play! I wish someone would call it like it is, as Trent Dilfer tried to do twice now on ESPN, that Matt Ryan cannot throw past 20 yards well AT ALL!!! His arm strength is weak and he’s very inaccurate! Watch ANY of the good QB’s in the league and they make all of those throws without having a perfect pocket (which appears to be the only way Mike Smith feels we don’t make the deep passes). Also, I know other Falcons fans don’t want to hear it but Mike Smith makes all the wrong decisions when it matters most, along with the TERRIBLE PLAY CALLING from our OC! Which team continues to try all of their short yardage plays up the middle where the line is completely stacked, just about every time??? As much as I hate them, watch New Orleans play and you can see the difference in play calling, even when they have longer yardage to gain!!! The Falcons just aren’t that good and there needs to be some SIGNIFICANT CHANGES to the coaching staff and personnel on the roster if they ever have hopes of not being a mediocre team!!! I would not be disappointed AT ALL if they cleaned house on the entire coaching staff…and that includes Mike Smith! At least then, good or bad, I’d have some hope; if things stay the same I have none!!!

blane f.

January 9th, 2012
12:03 am

mr blank is a business man. as long as people are willing to pay to see mediocrity,he will take it to the bank. if you really want change,don’t buy tickets! i promise you then and ONLY then will anything change. i don’t know why people seem surprised. falcons beat bad teams and flop every time they play a strong opponent.this team is average at best compared to the rest and will battle the bucs for the cellar. bring out the bags!!!!!!!!!!

Chopper

January 9th, 2012
12:06 am

they got any sense in jacksonville they send fullofmarlarkey back home fast after seeing that performance

Chopper

January 9th, 2012
12:09 am

0-3 in playoffs = one n done right out of the oven lololol a cooked falcon

NAFF

January 9th, 2012
12:10 am

I hope Atlanta was not watching the Saints game. They might learn how to make a 4th down attempt. See you Falcon people next year

Chopper

January 9th, 2012
12:10 am

2012 Season tickets get em here while on the discounted rate,,,,lmao

Just Looking

January 9th, 2012
12:14 am

Tim Tebow had more yds then Matt Ryan. Tim Tebow won a playoff game before Matt Ryan.

Falcons > Everyone

January 9th, 2012
12:18 am

Ouch, what a beatdown. That will happen every time if you don’t control the line of scrimmage. We were poor in every aspect of the game today and now we’re watching the playoffs from the couch again. Too bad; I thought this was our year. Maybe next year.

Can’t blame Matt for this one. He didn’t turn the ball over and only got sacked twice, but that’s because he had happy feet from the lack of protection. He had no time to throw because linemen were falling everywhere around him. Roddy dropped at least three passes today. I was really bothered by the offensive line not showing up today, and the lack of touches for Turner when we got inside the Giants’ 40-yard line, most notably the drive right after the Giants’ first field goal. I really would have loved to see more no-huddle in the first half to wear down the Giants’ front four. They dominated the game.

Just Looking

January 9th, 2012
12:21 am

Matt Ryan no huddle does not wear down the defense. He give he defense chance to rest because he will take the play clock down to 1 everytime. Get over this Matt Ryan no huddle thing.

Falcons > Everyone

January 9th, 2012
12:28 am

And if you think Arthur Blank should blow up the team in the offseason because we lost today in the attempt to be better next year, you’re wrong. If he did do that, we’d be worse than Tampa was this year for sure. We need to keep core pieces (Ryan, Roddy, Julio, Turner, Lofton, Spoon, Grimes, Peters, William Moore, etc) and build the right personnel around them. Four straight winning seasons (only team in the NFC to accomplish this from 08-11) and three playoff appearances…minus today’s game, if you ask me, this is the best the Falcons have ever been. Once we learn how to win the big-time games like today then there will be less days like today where we wonder what could have – and should – have been.

Chopper

January 9th, 2012
12:29 am

its wrong offense forhim use the west coast one and big big difference in his play new oc and new dc turn this team in right direction again no sense in arguing now season is over

Chopper

January 9th, 2012
12:31 am

shoulda won today and got tails kicked bigtime next weekend at gb 56-9, lololol

Chopper

January 9th, 2012
12:34 am

Dont woory though saints probly going up there to gb and get their tails whip too really laffing hard now

L.G. Moore

January 9th, 2012
12:39 am

What does Atlanta and Los Angeles have in common???

They don.t have a professional football team,

The Falcons played the worst football ever to be called “Professional” One yard and you can.t make it in 3 attempts….give me a break….hey guys go sell insurance somewhere…Atlanta get some football players, somewhere, somehow….Please

jeff

January 9th, 2012
1:52 am

tim tebow gets his 1st playoff win, matt ryan whats your excuse?

Truth Teller

January 9th, 2012
4:33 am

Good job Falcons, you followed an embarrassing loss by the Hawks on national TV to the Heat’s backups, with an embarrassing loss to the Giants on national TV. Oh and the Braves embarrassed everyone a few months ago in the finale vs Philly. What a joke, this cesspool is cursed lol.

Pete Riose

January 9th, 2012
7:04 am

I have it on good authority that Mike Smith bet Large amount on Giants. What else could it have been. Even he is not that stupid. 4th and inches twice lets run the small bony QB up the middle. It doesn’t work the first time so lets empty the backfield the 2nd time MORON

Matt Bryant

January 9th, 2012
7:06 am

I wanted to kick! .

Marion Campbell

January 9th, 2012
7:07 am

Am I no longer the worst Head Coach in team History or what?

Mike Mularky

January 9th, 2012
7:08 am

Do you really think anyone is dumb enough to hire me now?

Tony Gonzalez

January 9th, 2012
7:09 am

Can I change my mind about coming back to this inept offense?

Thomas Dimitroff

January 9th, 2012
7:11 am

I am now accepting resumes

Mike Smith

January 9th, 2012
7:15 am

Put a fork in me!!!

SeenThisBFalcon

January 9th, 2012
7:43 am

SEENTHISB4 WAS RIGHT….WE NEED A OVERHAUL THE FALCONS NEED TO GET RID OF BOTH COORDINATORS RAY EDWARDS/DUNTA ROBINSON/THOMAS DECOUD ALL NEED TO GO WE NEED SOME FIRE ON DEFENSE NOT EMOTIONAL PLAYERS THE FALCONS GAVE UP AFTER THE START OF THE THIRD QUARTER THATS SAD!!! I HOPE NXT YEAR WE GET IT TOGETHER!!! I’M STILL A FALCON 4 LIFE!!!!

SirReal

January 9th, 2012
8:13 am

This whole franchise is delusional. Even the owner. i hope he was just saying that for the camera. This team is clearly regressing. The D is atrocious and our offense is timid. I think next year is the last good year Turner has left in him. It really all starts with our rag tag line. Its been shuffled more than a deck in Vegas. Wouldnt say complete overhaul but some BIG things need to be addressed. We’ll probably be stuck with Mularkey another year as no one will hire him after watching his offense lay a goose egg. Terrible.

tidog

January 9th, 2012
8:19 am

The o line let this the team down period. You you can’t run, you can’t pass the only thing left is to punt. They pride themselves on playing through the whistle, about playing before the whistle. Move some bodies, open some holes give the qb time throw. Yhe line needs overhauling now. Get some dirt moving stonewall o lineman immediately. The overall talent base of the line is low, indvidually 1 possibly 2 guys should retain stater status. Bring in some competition for those jobs. Keeping a good o line together is on thing, keeping a mediocre to poor line together is insanity.