EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants talked all week long about how they have Super Bowl potential, and their confidence is swelling after they smothered the Atlanta Falcons 24-2.
What it means: The Giants won their third straight game with their most dominant performance of the season. They got off to a slow start, but the defense never let up on Matt Ryan. Eli Manning threw three touchdowns, and Atlanta never recovered. Atlanta led the game 2-0 on a second-quarter safety but was outscored 24-0 afterward.
Now the Giants, bursting with confidence, head to Green Bay for a rematch with Aaron Rodgers. This team feels that it can play with anyone right now, and a lot of that started with the Giants' 38-35 loss to Green Bay here last month.
Hakeem the dream:Victor Cruz has been the Giants’ biggest playmaker in the passing game this season. But Hakeem Nicks reminded everyone just how dangerous he is by scoring two touchdowns, including a 72-yard catch-and-run that saw Nicks sprint through practically the entire Atlanta secondary, which was without cornerback Brent Grimes.
Getting defensive: The Giants' defense continues to get better each week. The Giants held the Jets and Cowboys to 14 points each to make the playoffs. Perry Fewell’s unit then suffocated Atlanta.
The Giants had key stops on two fourth-and-1s that deflated the Falcons. In the first half, the Giants stuffed a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak at the Giants’ 24 to start the second quarter.
The Falcons tried a quarterback sneak with Ryan again on a fourth-and-1 at the Giants’ 21 and were stuffed with 4:16 to go in the third quarter.
Rush, rush: The Giants' running game got off to a slow start, but Brandon Jacobs provided a spark with a 34-yard run that eventually helped set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Nicks in the second quarter.
As has been the case in the past two weeks, the Giants' offensive line got better as the game progressed, and Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw did more damage in the second half.
What’s next: The Giants will head to Green Bay for a rematch with the Packers, who beat the Giants 38-35 last month at MetLife on a last-second field goal. The Giants lost 45-17 at Lambeau last season. But they won the NFC championship there in frigid conditions during the 2007 season, 23-20 in overtime.