Here Comes the Run

The Giants reach into the past to change their future.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Giants fans are celebrating after the team's 24-2 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC wild-card game Sunday. News4's Brian Thompson was there for the post-game parties. (Published Monday, Jan 9, 2012)

    The difference between Saturday night in New Orleans and Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands was like the difference between HDTV and a black-and-white Philco.

    Drew Brees and the rest of the Saints' offense play football with an ease that would make the uninitiated wonder just how the sport got a reputation for brutality.

    When you throw the ball with such precision and run around defenses without drawing so much as a fingertip on your person, football becomes more like ballet than the bloody struggle for survival that so many people have believed it is over the years.

    The Giants can throw the ball a little bit, but their 24-2 victory over the Falcons did not share much space with the show the Saints put on for our entertainment. It took them almost the entire first half to put points on the board and you saw the effort in every little thing they did offensively. 

    Things changed when the offense finally found its stride in the second half. The Giants took over the game by taking football back to its essentials instead of following the Saints' lead and seeing where the game can go.

    Play after play in the second half, the Giants simply lined up and told the Falcons that they were just going to battle them straight up, with no feints or misdirections, by running the ball down the defense's throat.

    Our guys are going to beat your guys off the ball, they are going to get lower than your guys and they are going to run through tackles because our guys are simply going to grind a little bit harder than your guys.

    Unoriginal? Perhaps, but you can't argue with the results.

    The Giants ran for 172 yards against the Falcons on Sunday and every carry seemed to wake up ghosts. The stadium, so antiseptic and quiet throughout its existence, roared like the old building and memories of past Giants champions rumbled through the mind the way Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs rumbled through the Atlanta line.

    There are still plenty of steps to go for these Giants to even realistically talk about joining those championship ancestors, but, for the first time all year, there's actually a reason to think they could pull it off. Their offense was balanced, Jacobs used his energy to do something other than make noise and the team played its best half of the season as a result.

    It worked on the other side of the ball as well. For reasons known only to Mike Smith, the Falcons wanted to play that same style of football on Sunday and the Giants defense, quite giving to running games all year, finally showed up to slam the door.

    When you can't run the ball and you can't stop the run, it doesn't take much for teams to realize that they are overmatched and simply quit. That's what the Falcons did after the third quarter of Sunday's game and that's something that the Saints' style doesn't really make you do.

    You might get a crick in your neck from craning it to watch the ball and you might find your jaw open as you contemplate how efficient an offense can be, but you don't ever get hit in the mouth so often that you just quit.

    The Giants forced Atlanta into that humiliation on Sunday, an old-school way of winning a football game that felt mighty good for a team that tried and failed to do it so often in 2011.

    Football doesn't get more old-school than Lambeau Field, which means the Giants are right where they need to be if they want to keep rolling the game back to a time more to their liking.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.