Disaster in the Meadowlands
The Falcons rolled into East Rutherford trying to win their first playoff game in the Ryan/Smith era. Instead, they left with more sour taste in their mouths, more heartbreak for the fans of this team, and more questions for this Falcons team.
The game was a huge fiasco in so many ways, but there are only a couple that even need to be tackled today.
The first is that Mike Smith has a penchant for going for it on fourth down, and the play calling has been pretty bad. The first time was the first play in the second quarter, and the offensive line got no push, Ryan was short a couple inches of a first down, and gave the Giants more momentum. It added insult to injury what happened next.
Manning and his Giants drove down the field all the way, with pounding rushing attack, and a 4th down conversion of their own, culminating in a TD pass to Hakeem Nicks in the red zone.
Another failed attempt by the Falcons to mount any type of offense stalled at the Giants 20 yard line. Apparently Mike Smith promised he would go for it in one yard to go situations, and he was true to his word. The QB sneak was called again, but this time there was no doubt what was going to happen as Ryan lined up under center in an empty backfield set. It is unacceptable, embarrassing and brutal that neither 4th down could be converted and the Giants did not fail to score. Instead of putting some points on the board and making the score 10-5, it swiftly became 17-2.
On the ensuing Giants possession, the Falcons brought the edge rushers, and they were only half a step from crushing Manning for a sack, and possibly a fumble. Unfortunately, Eli got the ball of quickly, hit Hakeem Nicks on a shallow drag route and due to the blown coverage by Dominique Franks, was able to split the defenders to streak into the end zone for a 72-yard TD. Its the same type of play we have seen Julio Jones make against the Colts and Panthers, but this time we were on the receiving end of the damage.
Given the score, there was no doubt what Atlanta had to do. No reason for them to run the ball, no reason to do anything but pass, and that is exactly what they did. It played perfectly into the hands of the Giants, who excel in few aspects of the game, but pass rushing is one of them. At the point where running the ball became irrelevant, the Falcons had lost the game. Straight drop backs and passing was not going to get it done against the G-Men, and Eli easily moved the ball on us. The game was essentially over when we lost the first 4th down battle.
It has been a rough topsy turvy season for the Falcons, and even more so as a fan. I’m going to post a season recap with the next couple days, mostly with thoughts on why we failed this season, and what needs to be remedied for future success for this team.
Whatever happens, Go Falcons