This time, the New York Giants were the team that couldn't convert in short-yardage. This time, the Atlanta Falcons were the team to win in a laugher.
Atlanta answered a lot of questions and avenged last year's playoff loss with a 34-0 beatdown of the Giants in the Georgia Dome Sunday. The win pushes Atlanta closer to home-field advantage in the playoffs and shows they are capable of a truly dominant effort against a quality opponent.
Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez dominated on third down to maintain possession seemingly all day. (Over 38 minutes.) Ryan had almost as many touchdowns (three) as incompletions. Eli Manning's protection broke down badly all day and he threw two crippling interceptions. Tom Coughlin unsuccessfully kept going for it on fourth-and-short.
The scattershot Giants have to wonder what team is going to show up in a given week. They are capable of crushing the Packers, Saints, and 49ers, but have suffered through way too many no-show performances this season. New York's pass rush is mediocre, their grip on the NFC East has eroded and now they risk falling out of the playoffs entirely.
Atlanta can't get everyone to shut up about their playoff record until the playoffs, but this rout will do for now. The Falcons are 7-0 at home this year. In a big spot, late in the season, the Falcons played their absolute best.
The Giants, on the other hand, are in the middle of yet another second half regular season collapse. This is usually the point where they start playing well out of nowhere and go win a Super Bowl. Well, except for those two seasons Coughlin didn't even get them to the playoffs.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.