By Paul Dottino
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Where does one begin? The Giants were horrible in every facet of their 34-0 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
How bad was it? The Giants suffered their first regular-season shutout since a 24-0 defeat to Philadelphia on December 1, 1996.
Perhaps it is more appropriate to ask how many lives this team thinks it has left. The Giants (8-6) will clinch at least a Wild Card spot with victories over Baltimore and Philadelphia in their final two games -- period. An optimist will point to how they were in the same situation last season, and won the required two games that eventually led to a Super Bowl title.
A pessimist will tell you that this team hasn't shown enough to deserve an opportunity to defend its championship, given how they wasted a two-game lead over the past month and gave away control of the NFC East.
Or you could be somewhere in the middle, which is where I stand. There is nothing good about what has happened to the Giants, who are 2-4 over their past six games. But two more wins would get them to 10, and that is enough to earn them a trip to the postseason -- and that is not backing in. They will have deserved a playoff bid. What the Giants do from there is up to them, and they should be judged accordingly.
As for the game in Atlanta, let's get to our abbreviated review. The game isn't worth more than that.
Offense -- RB Kregg Lumpkin: The recent free-agent signee saw his first significant action as a Giant and performed well. He ran with some power and seemed to find the correct lanes on his way to 42 yards on nine carries. We'll also tip our cap to WR Domenik Hixon, who caught five passes for 80 yards. They were the only two bright spots on the unit.
Defense -- None: Just move on.
Special Teams -- P Steve Weatherford: He punted twice, unloading for 58 and 52 yards. Do you think the roof agrees with him?
Offense -- QB Eli Manning: He was unable to get his unit on track and actually hurt its cause with two interceptions (turned into 10 points) on his first four possessions. He had Asante Samuel jump a stop route by Hakeem Nicks for a pick at the Giants' 22. That led to the first Atlanta TD. On the Giants' second snap of the second half, Manning was flat-footed when he looked for Nicks and S Thomas DeCoud grabbed the misfired throw at the Giants' 32. Matt Bryant's subsequent field goal made it 17-0. Manning's stat line really does tell it all: 13-of-25 for 161 yards and two INTs.
Defense -- All of them: Why single out anybody when the entire unit was dreadful and was ripped for 394 yards?
Special Teams -- PK Lawrence Tynes: The Giants' only sign of life in this game came on their second possession. Down 7-0, they marched 68 yards in 10 plays, but Tynes went wide left on a 30-yard field goal. He has missed a kick in each of the past three games.
What disturbed you the most about how the Giants played on Sunday? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below...
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