EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Being embarrassed in the playoffs is becoming a habit for the Atlanta Falcons. It’s one that has them wondering what they can do to break it.
Eli Manning threw three touchdowns and the New York Giants’ defense stuffed quarterback Matt Ryan on two crucial fourth-and-1 sneaks in basically pitching a shutout in a 24-2 victory that left the Falcons 0-3 in the postseason under coach Mike Smith.
“We can’t lose like this in the playoffs,” defensive end John Abraham, said. “We should have been able to do something different. We played well in the beginning, but it kind of got away from us in the end.
“They hit us when they needed to. I don’t think they ran it well all game, but in the end, they got some big plays. They just came out ready to play, more ready than us, and did a good job.”
Atlanta (10-7) struggled all day. The Falcons had 247 yards in total offense, gave up 442 yards and saw New York’s running game post a season-high 172 yards, with Manning possibly making the biggest play with a 14-yard scramble that woke up his team in the second quarter.
The setback came a year after the top-seeded Falcons were routed at home 48-21 by the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, .
“You get what you earn in this league,” Smith said. “We earned a 10-6 record in the regular season; we were 0-1 in the playoffs. We did not play our best game, and we are going to, starting (Monday), do everything in our power to rectify the 10-6 record from the regular season and the 0-1 record in the postseason. That is the only way I know how to approach it and I know as an organization we will approach it. “
Atlanta grabbed a 2-0 lead when Manning was called for illegally grounding the ball while in the end zone. The score came shortly after Ryan was stuffed on a fourth-down sneak from the New York 24. The other fourth-down failure came in the third quarter at the New York 21 with the Giants ahead 10-2. Ryan again was stopped.
Ryan blamed himself for choosing the wrong hole. His linemen took the blame.
“It’s disappointing when you have fourth-and-1 and can’t get it done on short yardage. You have to convert on those plays,” tackle Will Svitek said. “That’s how the game got away from us. If you want to win a playoff game, you have to convert those.”
But really, the Falcons had trouble running the ball the entire game as the Giants held the Falcons to 64 yards rushing.
“Things that we normally do, we didn’t do (Sunday),” said running back Michael Turner, who was held to 41 yards. “In short yardage, those are high percentage plays for us, and we didn’t come through. I’m totally surprised we didn’t get it. I feel like I let my teammates down, because I wanted to do whatever I could to help us advance. I can’t tell when it got away from us. But this is playoff football and we can’t play like that.”