Man, did the Atlanta Falcons ever need that type of victory.
Yes, it was only one game, and only one win, but it was about as impressive a win as you can get in the NFL. The Falcons were as good Sunday against the Giants as they were bad in the first half last week against the Panthers.
They bounced back and were impressive. That’s exactly what they had to do.
They shut out the defending Super Bowl champions 34-0.
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The national commentators will eat this game alive on Monday. They’ll say the Giants lost it, and leave that little part about the Falcons winning it out completely. But that’s a mistake – a huge mistake.
This Atlanta team deserves tremendous credit for bouncing back after the unimpressive performance last week. They were horrible, particularly in the first half, against Carolina. But this was like a different team on Sunday against the Giants. It’s like the old movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
The ‘old’ Falcons were back. The team that was impressive against Denver and San Diego earlier in the season was back to prove they’re more than just a team with a good record. Perhaps now national commentators will realize there’s a reason this Atlanta team is 12-2.
They’re pretty darn good.
The Falcons needed this, and it’s less about proving anything to anybody than simply playing good football late in the season. They need to be this hot so they can be the team to beat in January – the team no one else will want to play.
The offense found its rhythm Sunday. It had been lost, but now it’s found. They ran the ball effectively. Michael Turner ran hard. Jason Snelling was (finally) given an opportunity to contribute and did. They ran it just enough to provide a balanced attack.
They passed the ball well. Matt Ryan was sharp, as he completed 23 of 28 passes. Eight different Atlanta players caught passes, which once again showed the danger the Falcons’ offense can present to opposing defenses.
And Atlanta’s defense? It played with an aggressiveness that any team that wants to win a championship must have. New York was 0-3 on fourth down attempts, as Atlanta had impressive stops. The Giants had three turnovers. Eli Manning had a horrible day.
Yes, when a team gets shutout, the defense deserves the curtain call.
This was revenge in its purest form. As bad as the Atlanta players and fans felt last January when the team wet the bed in the playoff game in New York, the Giants probably now feel even worse. Heck, at least Atlanta scored two points in that game.
The Giants did nothing right. It was embarrassing for them. It was humiliating.
They’ll try to spin it and say they’re still in the playoff hunt, and that they didn’t turn it on last year until they got to the playoffs and had that win over Atlanta. But when you’re season is on the line and you play that bad, it could be hard to overcome.
But Atlanta caused it. The Falcons made the Giants look bad. New York didn’t just do it on purpose. Atlanta came ready to play and then after getting the lead put the foot on the accelerator.
The Falcons promised last week they would learn from what happened in Charlotte, when the Panthers won by 10 and made Atlanta look bad. They knew that game only increased the number of questions people would have about the team.
It did, but hopefully now, after the blowout win over New York, those questions will be answered differently.
It didn’t take long, however, to see exactly how this was going to play out in the media. The headline on ESPN.com was “Giants get routed.” Really? That’s what happened? How about naming the team that routed that media darling from New York?
It’s the Atlanta Falcons – the team with the league’s best record that now deserves the attention for the excellent season they have had.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com . Follow Bill on twitter @BillShanks and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .