The Falcons’ offensive line turned in a stellar performance against the Giants’ vaunted defensive line rotation that Atlanta coach Mike Smith repeatedly called the best in the NFL.
The Falcons forced the Giants to respect the running attack. They ran the ball 35 times for 125 yards (3.5 per carry) when discounting three kneel-downs by quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Luke McCown.
Last year, the Giants dominated the line of scrimmage in the Falcons 24-2 loss in the playoffs.
Facing a number of draw plays and some screen passes, the Giants never got their pass rush rolling. They finished with one sack and three quarterback hits.
“I thought our offensive line play fantastic,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “Our guys really stepped up to the challenge.”
Chris Canty, rushing over Falcons left guard Justin Blalock, got the Giants only sack, that coming in the second quarter when the Falcons already had a 17-0 lead. Jason Pierre-Paul, who leads the Giants with 6.5 sacks, was shut out.
“They’ve got some great athletes up front,” Falcons left tackle Sam Baker said. “So we knew that we were going to have to stay balanced. We were going to have to definitely establish the run game.”
For just the second time this season, the Falcons ran the ball more times than they passed, attempting only 28 passes. In a win over Philadelphia on Oct. 28, they rushed the ball 37 times and threw 29 passes.
“For us, the run game helps open up so many different things for us,” Baker said. “When we are able to run it, it lets Matt be better, lets Julio (Jones) and all of those guys be better, too. It was really just something to keep them off balance.”
Baker also believed this was the team’s most complete game.
“Sometimes we started off fast and didn’t finish as strong,” Baker said. “Then last week started off slow and finished strong. To put together four good quarters was huge.”
Video: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s post-game comments
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