This time, the New York Giants were the team that couldn't convert in short-yardage situations. This time, the Atlanta Falcons were the team to win in a laugher.
The Falcons answered a lot of questions Sunday and avenged last year's playoff loss with a 34-0 beatdown of the Giants at the Georgia Dome. The win pushes Atlanta closer to home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs and shows the team is capable of a truly dominant effort against a quality opponent.
Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez dominated on third down to maintain possession seemingly all day (over 38 minutes). Ryan had almost as many touchdown passes (three) as incompletions. Eli Manning's protection broke down badly all day, and he threw two crippling interceptions. Giants coach Tom Coughlin unsuccessfully kept going for it on fourth-and-short.
The scattershot Giants have to wonder what team will show up on a given week. They are capable of crushing the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers, but they have suffered through way too many no-show performances this season. The Giants' pass rush is mediocre, their grip on the NFC East has eroded and, at 8-6, they now risk falling out of the playoffs entirely.
The Giants, on the other hand, are in the middle of yet another second-half regular-season collapse. This usually is the point where they start playing well out of nowhere and go win a Super Bowl. Well, except for those two seasons Coughlin didn't even get them to the playoffs.