When the Giants see the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday's 1 p.m. wildcard playoff game, they'd better run.
Run the football, that is.
They haven't done that well all season, as their last-place ranking in that area indicates. But at this time of year, in the playoff scenario, the importance of a solid run game combined with strong defensive showings become ever more important.
And the Giants and Falcons know that. Atlanta, in fact, should have no problem in that area, as they'll undoubtedly use 1,300-yard rusher Michael Turner to set up what could be frequent throws to Matt Ryan's Hall-of-Fame-In-Waiting tight end Tony Gonzalez.
But the Giants need a strong ground game this week, if only to maintain clock control.
"The Falcons are a very fast defensive front, their linebackers run very well," Brandon Jacobs said. "It is definitely going to be a challenge for us but I honestly don’t see a reason why we can’t. Just like every week, I have confidence in our running game, which hasn’t been up to par the whole season. This is another season and hopefully things can work out for the better."
The Giants will undoubtedly throw up their typical combination of Jacobs and lead rusher Bradshaw. Jacobs has run with renewed authority over the past couple of games, and Bradshaw appears to have recovered well from his foot problems.
If those two can produce, it could stave off the Falcons' John Abraham-led pass rush and open opportunities for Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham downfield.
The ground game has come around somewhat since the first 14 games, recording 115 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets and 106 yards and one touchdown against the Cowboys.
"We're just running the ball better right now because we are coming together," Bradshaw said.
At least maintaining that pace should be enough to keep the Falcons honest.