Originally written December 16, 2012 on Fox Sports South:
PASSING GAME Falcons After falling out of the MVP race with a five-game string of mediocre-to-awful outings, Matt Ryan returned to form against the Giants, exacting revenge with a 23-of-28 passing performance for 270 yards. When it was all over, he had three touchdowns and no interceptions. Ryan surpassed his own franchise record for passing yards in this one, as he now has 4,202 yards with two games remaining on the schedule. Five Atlanta receivers caught multiple passes, led by wideout Julio Jones, who caught six passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns. And is it possible to forget Tony Gonzalez? Ever? He extended his all-time tight end touchdown record he now has 103 career trips to the end zone. Grade: A Giants It was a forgettable day for Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who could get absolutely nothing going against Atlanta's defense. Not only was his offense shut out in the 34-0 rout, but he completed just 13 of his 25 passes and threw two picks. His leading receiver Domenik Hixon finished with five catches for 80 yards. Grade: D RUNNING GAME Falcons With 129 yards on 38 carries, Atlanta's running game showed up in this one, pacing an offense that held the ball for nearly 39 minutes. This unit has been chastised throughout the season, but any production close to Sunday's performance will be sufficient with the Falcons' dangerous passing attack. Running back Michael Turner finished with 52 yards and a score, but he was spelled by Jason Snelling (39 yards), Jacquizz Rodgers (25 yards) and Julio Jones (18 yards). Grade: B Giants Starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw did not play, but backups Kregg Lumpkin and David Wilson were respectable in relief. Though the Giants ran the ball just 21 times, they did gain 97 yards to create a threat. Of course, nothing seemed to work for long, and when Manning is not clicking this Giants' offense often stalls. Grade: B- DEFENSE Falcons During their loss to the Giants in last season's playoff game, the offense was the focus of attention after it posted just two points in 60 minutes. But it is certainly worth mentioning that Sunday provided a proving ground for Atlanta's defense and they stepped up in a huge way: Holding a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback scoreless and forcing three turnovers. They held the Giants to 256 yards of total offense. The Falcons' playmaking secondary made the necessary plays Asante Samuel and Thomas DeCoud both picked off passes and the front-seven forced just enough pressure to keep Manning uncomfortable. Grade: A Giants Any defense that is kept on the field for 39 minutes against the Falcons' offense is going to struggle, and the Giants' defense did not receive a helping hand from its offense Sunday. However, giving up 34 points will never spark much praise. The Falcons racked up nearly 400 yards of offense and did not turn the ball over once on 10 drives. The Giants did force quite a few negative plays (five tackles for loss). Grade: C SPECIAL TEAMS Falcons Kicker Matt Bryant made both of his field goals. Punter Matt Bosher punted the ball twice, averaging 40 yards and not allowed a single return. While there was a brief scare on a possible fumble by Dominque Franks, the Falcons did not hurt themselves on special teams. Bryant has now made 31 of his 36 field goal attempts this season. Grade: B Giants New York punter Steve Weatherford had a strong outing, averaging 55 yards on two kicks, but the rest of the Giants' special teams unit did not impress. Kicker Lawrence Tynes missed his only field goal, while dynamic returner David Wilson, who also split time at running back, was held in check. Grade: C-

What to watch in the NL Wild Card game

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Larry Donnell benches himself in fantasy, loses because of it

Josh Gordon says NFL’s drug policy is harrassment

Steve Smith: Ron Rivera hid in his office after cutting me

Rondo hoping for an opening night return from broken hand


Jon Gruden on Raiders job: 'I'm not thinking about coaching'

Tom Brady defends not congratulating Garoppolo on TD

Ohio State student who ran on field loses full scholarship

Report: Carson Palmer's nerve injury 'still lingering'

Adam Dunn to retire after 14-year MLB career

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision, will learn from it

NL Wild Card Game Live Blog

WATCH: Mayweather shocked someone doesn’t know who he is

Who is the new face of MLB?

NHL 15 predicts the LA Kings win the Cup again

J.J. Watt buys his mom a new car for her birthday

Ranking the NFL coaches already sitting on the hot seat

WATCH: Smith tells Panthers to go home and mow his lawn

The best games on the NFL slate in Week 5

Aaron Rodgers says smoking gesture a tribute to Jay Cutler

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

Major League Baseball's 2014 All-Disappointment Team

Jeter introduces 'The Players Tribune,' 'The Voice of the Game'

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

What to watch in the NL Wild Card game

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Donnell benches himself in fantasy and loses

Gordon: Drug policy is harrassment

Who is the new face of baseball?

Steve Smith blasts Panthers coach, GM

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

All-Disappointment Team in MLB

Ryan Lochte: Phelps made dumb decision

WATCH: Brett Favre in new commercial

Brady snubs rookie after TD pass

FCC: Washington nickname 'inappropriate today'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.