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The Giants were led by Eli Manning, Victory Cruz, and a group of unexpected back ups to win a one-sided victory over Carolina by a final score of 36-7 at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday night.
Charlotte, NC- At the start of the second half the Carolina Panthers (1-2, 1-1 conference) trailed the New York Giants (2-1, 0-1 conference) 20-0, and were prepared to receive the opening kick and try to spark some life back into the game. Joe Adams took the ball about three yards deep into the end zone and elected to bring it out. At the 22-yard line the ball was stripped and recovered by the New York Giants. Those six seconds told the entire story of Thursday nights Panthers vs. Giants match up at Bank of America Stadium.
The Giants defeated the Panthers in a one-sided 36-7 victory in Charlotte on Thursday night make it two wins in a row against the NFC South division. The Panthers continue the up and down season that started with a loss to Tampa Bay and included an emotional win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
New York overcame missing key contributors including running back Ahmad Bradshaw, wide receivers Hakeem Nick and Domenik Hixon, and tackle David Diehl to put together a performance as good as any seen this year in the NFL. Eli Manning drove his team up and down the field all night, coming right out of the gates with an 8-play 80 yard scoring drive to begin the game that was capped off with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett.
“Everything that we did tonight, we need to go ahead and get a trash can, a good tin one, and go ahead and burn those plays and never go back to them because it was shameful for the fans and it was just flat out terrible and we just got out tales whipped, said veteran receiver Steve Smith, “from the beginning to the end and in every aspect and... it was pretty disgusting.”
The start was nothing new for Panthers fans. For the third time in as many games they had given up an opening drive touchdown. No other team in the NFL did that in the first two games. Two quarters later the sold out Bank of America stadium was shocked to have witnessed the Giants double the Panthers in time of possession for the first half, give up nearly 100 yards (96) to running back Andre Brown, and allow Eli Manning to go 19-for-25 for 208 yards and one touchdown. Those were the numbers at halftime with the score 20-0.
“We got beat by a better football team. That's the bottom line,” said head coach Ron Rivera following the game, “Some guys played pretty good, some guys didn't play good enough. The unfortunate thing is when you don't play well enough against a good team like this you're going to get beat and that's what happens.”
The Giants added a field goal following the Panther turnover to start the half and the Giants were in cruise control the rest of the way to their second victory of the season. Last week the Panthers were draped over Saints receivers and applying an intense pass rush making life very difficult for Drew Brees. This week it was the vaulted defensive line of the New York Giants who made Cam Newton miserable.
Jason Pierre Paul batted two passes down, one of which he almost acrobatically intercepted in the first quarter. The Giants defense forced Cam Newton into three interceptions, the most critical coming on a late first half drive with the Panthers down 20-0 and moving the ball into Giants territory with an opportunity to put points on the board before the half.
Carolina had moved the ball to the Giants 39 with 1:30 to go in the half and a first down. After a false start against Steve Smith pushed the Panthers back to the 44, Newton threw a pass for Brandon LaFelle that was high. LaFelle tried to reach up and make the grab but ended up tipping it in the air for Giants defender, Jayron Hosley, to make the interception.
“It's real frustrating. You go out there and you get open and you're not getting the ball or you're dropping it and giving up interceptions is real frustrating,” said wide receiver Brandon LaFelle, “I had the tip off that led to the interceptions and I felt like that was a changing point in the game and as a receiver I got to play better than that.”
Newton's second interception sent the Bank of America's fans to the exits. At the end of the 3rd quarter an unnecessary roughness penalty was called on Amukamara of the Giants and put the ball on the Panthers 45-yard line down 26-7 to start the 4th quarter. A sack forced the Panthers into 3rd and long and a deep desperation pass was thrown into coverage and intercepted ending any hope of a miracle comeback.
The Giants took that turnover and drove down the field to put the game away driving the score to 33-7 with just over ten minutes to go.
The final interception of the game was a 4th and a goal pass picked off in the end zone by safety, Stevie Brown.
Many of the players sat on the sidelines with their heads down, and towels draped over their faces in the final minutes of the game. Impressively Steve Smith who has battled injuries all season remained on the field into the final seconds catching passes and advancing the Panthers down the field even though they trailed by the final score of 36-7.
Smith addressed the way the team ended the game tonight by saying, “You take the good with the bad. I can say that now 'cuz I've made a few mistakes in my life. You got to take it weather you want to or not. You can't want to be a Carolina Panther when its a sunny day and everything's going great and you're on prime time, and then after the game you want to tuck your tail in and run. That's not what its about. You got to stand up and take it as if we won or lost. That's men becoming boys... or boys becoming men. Depending on which you want to choose.”
The Panthers will play next Sunday at the Atlanta Falcons in a key divisional match up. The good news for Carolina is that they get some extra time to think about this one and fix key mistakes, plus put the game behind them.
“I think it'll be nice. I think we need to regroup here. Take this weekend and do some self evaluation and come back here reenergized on Monday because we've got a heck of a schedule coming up here,” said Tight End Greg Olsen.