Friday, January 6, 2012
Final Word: Falcons at Giants
By Pat Yasinskas
Three nuggets of knowledge about Sunday’s Falcons-Giants playoff game:
Will star Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez finally notch his first playoff win on Sunday?
Not a hard road. The Falcons aren’t known as a great road team, especially when they have to play outdoors. But traveling to MetLife Stadium shouldn’t be as frightening as many people think. The home-field advantage isn’t as big a deal as one might consider. Since 2004, home teams are 13-15 in wild-card playoff games.
Protecting Matty Ice. It already has been established that one of the biggest matchups in this game will be Atlanta’s offensive line against New York’s pass rush. The Falcons had a tough time protecting Matt Ryan early in the season, even against base defenses. But Atlanta’s offensive line has been better of late. In his past seven games, Ryan has 12 touchdowns and no interceptions against four or fewer pass rushers. But, with Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants are one of the league’s best at generating a pass rush from their front four.
Gonzo’s unlucky streak. Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez probably will be a first-ballot selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He already holds virtually every receiving record for tight ends. But there’s one thing Gonzalez never has done. He’s gone through his entire career without winning a playoff game. Gonzalez’s 238 regular-season games without a playoff win are the most by a position player in the Super Bowl era. Gonzalez played in three playoff games with Kansas City and was with Atlanta last season when the Falcons lost to the Packers.