By Associated Press
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, the team the Giants (10-7) will face in the NFC semifinal on Jan. 15.
“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 tomorrow, 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