The New York Giants went into tonight’s game against the Carolina Panthers with four active wide receivers and without their starting running back and starting right tackle. Nobody could have guessed what would happen next.
Andre Brown, getting his first career start carried the ball 20 times and gained 113 yards and added 2 touchdowns. He also had 3 catches for 17 yards. Brown, who has been cut a total of 8 times since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft has literally come out of nowhere and emerged as a legitimate threat in the backfield.
Also getting his first NFL start was Ramses Barden who was filling in for Hakeem Nicks. Barden responded by doing his best Nicks impression catching 9 of the 10 balls thrown his way for 138 yards. The Carolina defense focused on Victor Cruz and played off of Barden for much of the night and Eli Manning exploited that.
The offensive line looked revitalized with Will Beatty at left tackle and Sean Locklear at right tackle. They opened holes for Brown and protected Eli Manning, allowing only one sack that was actually the result of Andre Brown getting dominated by Frank Alexander when he stayed back in pass protection.
The Giants defensive line made life a little uncomfortable for Cam Newton, sacking him twice and taking away angles which he could have used to run the ball. Newtown was held to 6 yards on 6 carries, although one of those carries was a one-yard touchdown dive.
The Giants needed players to step up for injured starters and they got everything they hoped for and more. Brown is sure to continue to get carries when Ahmad Bradshaw returns, making the Giants running game that much more dangerous. Brown’s emergence has really been a surprise. He went from training camp afterthought to starting running back in a couple of months. Not bad for a player who was facing a four-game suspension for testing positive for Adderall, a substance he has a doctor’s prescription for.
The Giants found depth tonight, something that will come in handy down the stretch.