Green Bay, WI (AP) – Eli Manning and the New York Giants are heading to Green Bay with their running game rejuvenated and their defense as stifling as ever.
Manning threw three touchdown passes, Brandon Jacobs had 92 of the Giants’ 172 yards rushing and the defense shut down Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in a 24-2 victory Sunday.
“If we can play defense like that,” coach Tom Coughlin said, “we will continue to make ourselves heard in this tournament.”
Manning also scrambled for a 14-yard gain that woke up New York’s offense in its first postseason victory since its Super Bowl upset of undefeated New England four years ago. Next up: the defending champion Packers (15-1), who won in East Rutherford, N.J., 38-35 in December.
“We know they are a good team,” Manning said. “We played them tough here, did some good things here, we scored some points. We know offensively we are going to have to play strong, score some points.”
A hobbled Ben Roethlisberger was leading Pittsburgh (12-4) against Tim Tebow and the Broncos (8-8) at Denver in the late game Sunday. The winner plays at New England next Saturday.
The high-scoring New Orleans Saints (14-3) earned a trip to San Francisco, also next Saturday, against the 49ers (13-3) with a convincing 45-28 win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday night.
The Houston Texans (11-6) will be at Baltimore to take on the Ravens (12-4) next Sunday after a 31-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals for the first playoff win in franchise history.
At East Rutherford, N.J., Manning hooked up on a 72-yard catch and run by Hakeem Nicks in the third quarter that put away the inept Falcons (10-7). Manning also connected on a 4-yard TD with Nicks in the second period, and a 27-yard TD throw to Mario Manningham in the fourth quarter that finished it off.
The Giants’ last postseason trip to frigid Lambeau Field was a 23-20 overtime victory for the NFC championship two weeks before they upset the Patriots.
“Cold, I remember that. I remember coach Coughlin’s face. I remember (tackle) David Diehl sweating and it froze on his hair and he had icicles on his hair,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “And I remember us winning. Hopefully, we can go back there and do it again.”
New York twice stymied Atlanta on fourth-and-1 as Ryan’s sneaks went nowhere in the Giants’ 24-2 win Sunday. The defense also stopped Michael Turner on a third-and-inches late in the third period. The Falcons couldn’t gain any traction on the ground and were held to 64 yards rushing.
“They did a great job of defending us, especially in the second half,” tight end Tony Gonzalez said. “That shouldn’t happen to a team like we have. We’re a lot better than this.”
But the only points the Falcons could muster was when Manning was pressured into the end zone by James Sanders and threw the ball away to avoid the sack, resulting in a safety.
“Our defense played great,” Manning said, “kept us in the lead.”