Three Reasons The Giants Beat The Panthers
Man, did I not see that one coming. Despite injuries to several key players, the Giants went to Charlotte and absolutely manhandled the Panthers 36-7 on Thursday night. How’d they do that? Here are three quick reasons why and some additional bonus notes for your reading pleasure:
Winning the line of scrimmage- The Giants’ offensive line was without David Diehl, but still played tremendously and gave Eli Manning more time in the pocket than he ever dreamed of. As Mike Mayock said in last night’s game broadcast, the New York offensive line was the MVP of the game. The defensive line finally had a strong performance, though they did break through a bit towards the end of Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay. Osi Umenyiora’s presence was really felt on Thursday, no more than his sack of Cam Newton on third down toward midfield, when he had the speed, strength and agility to take Newton down for the sack. The pressure the Giants were able to get forced three Newton interceptions and helped out their suspect secondary.
What Brown did for the Giants- Speed, patience, power, explosiveness. Andre Brown unexpectedly used these four traits to have an incredible breakout performance and two touchdowns in the blowout win. Once again, the New York offensive line paved the way for Brown’s success after Ahmad Bradshaw was sidelined for the game last night. Brown has certainly supplanted first round pick David Wilson as the second running back, but Brown could ultimately eclipse Bradshaw as the starter. Being a running back in the NFL is a lot like being a goalie in the NHL: there are few elite backs that get every carry, so teams tend to “ride the hot hand” and rely on the player currently having the greatest amount of success. If Bradshaw remains hindered by his foot injury or lacks consistency, this is going to be Brown’s job.
Barden & Bennett break out- With Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon out, Manning had to find receivers to rely on other than Victor Cruz. Enter Bennett and Barden. Martellus Bennett was obscured by Jason Witten in Dallas and never got consistent reps. Now that he’s getting that, he’s playing with purpose (being on a one-year deal helps) and is quickly developing a rapport with his QB. He has a touchdown in each of the team’s first three games and is using his big body and athleticism to carve out not just space on the field, but an important role on the team going forward. As for Barden, the former third-round pick is blessed with 6’6 height and a wealth of speed. It didn’t seem like the Panthers defense took him seriously, and he burned Carolina hard on Thursday. It’ll be interesting to see what his role will be going forward, but he showed the hands and burst to potentially be a reliable option going forward, which would be an enormous boost for the Giants’ offense.
-A short Twitter conversation with ESPN’s KC Joyner after the game:
Joyner- “This performance by the Panthers was embarrassing. To lose is one thing but to play like this is just unacceptable.”
Me- “They were dominated at the line of scrimmage, couldn’t cover WR’s. They need to regroup big time.”
Joyner- “They also couldn’t get after the suspect NY secondary. Just awful.”
Me- “Smith & Olsen were open, but New York’s front 4 dominated at the point of attack.”
-This was pointed out by some analysts on Twitter last night and this morning: Newton tended to try to force the ball into tight coverage rather than take the surefire check-down option or hot read. That could be a reflection on his immaturity as a complete quarterback or, perhaps, the product of what the score of the game was at the time. We’ll see, I guess.
Quote of the night- “At this level, you never know when you’re going to get an opportunity, you’ve got to be prepared for it. Andre Brown is a great example. He’s a guy we drafted, he bounced around, and we brought him back. He was on the bubble to make the team, and here you go. Ahmad gets hurt, and he ran great, he pass protected.” –Eli Manning on Andre Brown.
Honorable mention- “Who wants to support something that puts on a performance of embarrassment out there, and that’s what that was. If I was a fan of the Carolina Panthers I would be holding my head down in shame at the product that was out there.” –Cam Newton.