As I stated in my game prediction, there was too much on the line for Atlanta when they welcomed the Giants into the George Dome this afternoon.
The Falcons, now 7-0 in their own friendly confines, proved that with a shutout of the defending Super Bowl champions.
On the defensive side of the ball, Big Blue had no way of containing the Falcons multifaceted attack. Atlanta dominated in every possible aspect in this match-up.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan completed all but five passes, a 23-28 mark for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He and the Falcons offense did not the turn the ball over.
Ryan finished the game with a near-perfect 142.6 quarterback rating, largely because his jersey was dirtied just once.
Sacks, which continued to be a focal point of the discussions leading up to today’s contest, again did not materialize for the Giants defensive front.
The G-Men registered one sack of Ryan, just days after defensive end Osi Umenyiora said there were “opportunities to get (to Ryan)” earlier in the week.
The Giants entered today’s game with an NFL-worst 15 sacks on the year, though in the last five games had started to turn a corner with eight sacks.
Last week, however, the defense sacked Drew Brees just once. Today a similar story against Atlanta’s offensive line, which had allowed just 24 sacks of Ryan on the year — tied for the 7th-best mark in the league.
A defense that made its reputation on harassing opposing signal-callers was now a shell of its former self.
The Giants couldn’t make Ryan feel uncomfortable in the pocket, nor could they disrupt his rhythm in the passing game.
Ryan completed passes to eight different receivers, including two touchdowns to Julio Jones and one to the ageless Tony Gonzalez.
Ryan and the Falcons receivers picked upon rookie Jayron Hosley, who drew the start for the injured Prince Amukamara. Overall, the Giants recorded only two pass defenses on the stat sheet.
In the running game, Michael Turner led a conglomerate of backs who totaled 129 yards. Turner had 52 yards and a touchdown, with Jason Snelling, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jones combining for 82 yards.
A contrast from their last meeting
As I stated in my prediction, the Falcons would be determined to exact revenge on the Giants after their playoff blunder in the Wildcard round in 2011, as well as with a chance to redeem themselves from their shortcoming vs. the Panthers.
In the last meeting, Atlanta’s safety of Eli Manning at the 13:44 mark of the first quarter was their sole source of scoring. Essentially, they were shut out by the G-Men in that contest and today they simply returned the favor.
In that game, New York harassed Ryan, hitting the Falcons’ quarterback seven times and sacking him twice. They held Turner and the rushing attack to a mere 64 yards and the passing game to fewer than 200 total yards.
What this game shows is again the consistent inconsistency of the Giants. The ’12 Giants have a tendency to play like a Super Bowl contender one week and follow it up with a performance that begs the question “WTF?”
Atlanta was the more driven, more focused and overall superior team on this Sunday. The Giants, in my view, have the higher ceiling, should they finally figure out a way for their mindsets to match their skill levels.
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamSpiegs