The Giants celebrate Eli Manning’s illustrious career on Sunday by enshrining him in the Ring of Honor and retiring his number 10.
Later this season, they are also celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Super Bowl XLVI team. Coincidentally, this game encapsulates both of those things.
The Giants came in HOT to this game and were three-point favorites even though the Falcons had one more victory than they did. The Giants may have been late bloomers in their magical Super Bowl season, but they sure did show who the better team was on this day.
Just three days away from Eli Manning’s number 10 being retired, something needs to be said: ELI MANNING CARRIED THE 2011 GIANTS.
The narrative that Eli Manning was carried to his super bowls by his defense is wrong because of what he did in 2011. This was a team that had the last ranked rushing attack and the 27th ranked defense in the regular season, all the while Eli Manning threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 29 touchdowns AND led SIX fourth-quarter comebacks on the year. Keep in mind the Giants won NINE FREAKING GAMES ALL OF 2011. So on a day where Eli Manning is being honored, and in a blog where we are talking about a game in his greatest season, that needed to be said. Now back to the game.
Despite the Giants’ flaws in 2011, they came into the playoffs hot as a pistol, and it showed. Defensively the game came down to two fourth-down stops. To open up the second quarter, the Falcons had the ball at the Giants’ 24-yard line. Rather than kick the field goal, they elected to go for it, and Matt Ryan was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. This was a huge play early in the game, and later on, Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith would try his hand at going for it again in the third quarter. This time at the Giants 21-yard line, Matt Ryan would again try to sneak it but was once again stuffed at the line of scrimmage. This was the closest the Falcons would get to scoring on this Giants defense, outside of a garbage-time drive that ended in another turnover on downs. The defense shut down a top ten offense and held Atlanta to just 247 yards. Offensively, the Giants took care of the rest, including the Falcons’ only score of the game.
In typical Eli Manning fashion, he would play brilliantly but make one boneheaded play. Two plays after the Giants’ first fourth-down stop of Matt Ryan, Eli Manning was blitzed by safety James Sanders, and in an attempt to throw the ball away in his end zone, didn’t reach the line of scrimmage and gave the Falcons an easy safety. This was the last, and only time the Falcons would score in this playoff matchup. Eli played lights out for the rest of the game, going for 277 yards and three touchdowns.
Two of those touchdowns went to receiver Hakeem Nicks, including an electric 72-yard catch and run. Nicks was an unsung hero in the 2011 Super Bowl run, going for 444 yards and 4 touchdowns in the postseason. Eli topped off his day with a gorgeous 27-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham. Complimenting Eli’s 277 passing yards was a rushing attack that went for 172 yards on the ground on the backs of Big Brandon Jacobs (94 yards) and Ahmad Bradshaw (63 yards)
Simply put, the Falcons didn’t have a chance on this day.
This game still stands as the only playoff game ever to take place inside MetLife Stadium.
This could be the year the Giants change that. The Giants are banged up on the offensive line, their defense is playing poorly, and they are looking 0-3 right in the eye.
With Eli Manning in the house, the Giants sure could use some of his magic to erase this porous start to the season and help spark another magical run.
The Giants can pull out a win on Sunday against the 0-2 Falcons despite all of this.
Featured Image: Chris Trotman