- Luke Cyphers
ESPN's Stats & Information team develops next-level insights into events and news on a daily basis. ESPN The Magazine's Luke Cyphers sorted through the data for this weekend's Eagles-Giants NFC Playoff contest and highlights some key points.
If at first you don't succeed ...
Actually, the Giants don't have to deal with that much. Big Blue gained an NFL-leading 1,417 rushing yards on first down. Read that again, slowly. That many yards. On first down. If the Giants on first down were a running back, he'd have finished fifth in the league in rushing, right behind Clinton Portis. He'd have had more rushing yards than three NFL teams gained on all downs combined. Read that again, slowly. All downs combined. In the pass-happy NFL, the Giants do what every coach claims he wants to do, but can't -- establish the run. New York gained nearly 200 more yards rushing than passing on first down. Only six teams in the league ran for more on first down than they passed for.
Why are the Giants so good? Because their running game makes the most of first down.