Matt Ryan throws 3 TDs, Falcons pummel Giants 34-0

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“Last week everybody was talking smack about us,” defensive end John Abraham said. “We just continue what we’re doing.”

For the Giants, it was a miserable performance when they controlled their own destiny, at a time of year when they normally play some of their best football.

Manning threw his first pick on the second play of scrimmage, setting up a quick Atlanta touchdown. Coughlin made a curious call late in the first half, passing up another short field goal attempt when his team was almost 2 yards shy of the marker. Samuel batted down a short pass intended for Victor Cruz, sending Atlanta to the locker room with a commanding 17-0 lead and all the momentum.

“I was thinking we needed to engender a lift for our sideline,” Coughlin said. “That did not work out either.”

Nothing did.

The tone was set right away.

When Manning attempted to hit Hakeem Nicks on a short pass to the right, Samuel stepped in to make the interception and return it to the Giants 16. From there, Michael Turner ran it four straight times, the last of those a 1-yard plunge that gave Atlanta a 7-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the game.

It was all Falcons after Lawrence Tynes missed a chip shot kick from 30 yards, ruining an impressive second possession by the Giants. Atlanta took it 80 yards from there, with Ryan going to Harry Douglas on a 37-yard gain for the biggest play. Then, on third-and-11 from the 12, Ryan went to his favorite target, Tony Gonzalez, in the end zone. The 16-year veteran leaped over safety Will Hill to haul in the high throw — and hopped up quickly for his customary dunk over the goalposts.

Manning finished 13 of 25 for 161 yards, leaving him with a dismal 38.9 rating — his worst since a Dec. 23, 2007, win at Buffalo.

“We have two games left and we have to win those two games,” Manning said. “What else happens after that, we don’t know and can’t control.”

Early in the second half, the Falcons blew it open on Ryan’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Jones down the left sideline. Finally, after a drive that used up more than 9 minutes in the fourth quarter, Ryan went to Jones for a 3-yard TD.

The Giants turned it over one more time in the closing minutes, finishing off their first shutout in the regular season since a 24-0 defeat at Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 1996. The performance came just a week after they put up 52 points on the New Orleans Saints.

There was a moment of silence before the game honoring the Connecticut shooting victims, and New York took the extra step of wearing “SHES” decals on its blue helmets in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Even more touchingly, Cruz dedicated the game to 6-year-old victim Jack Pinto, who was reported to be a big Giants fan.

“It was very emotional, obviously, during the game,” said Cruz, who caught only three passes for 15 yards. “With a family facing that much tragedy, you want to be someone that inspires them, someone that can put a smile on their face at a time where it’s tough to do that.”

NOTES: More recently, the Giants were shut out in the playoffs after the 2005 season, losing at Carolina 23-0. … Ryan has thrown for 4,202 yards and 27 touchdowns this season. … There was one bright spot for Manning: He set a franchise record for career completions with 2,585, moving past the mark held by Phil Simms (2,576).

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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