The New York Giants typified their “road warriors” moniker on Thursday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers. Not only did they play well on the road and much better than they did in their two home games, but they had their doubters and proved them wrong in the contest. The NFL Network crew all picked the Panthers to win, and only three of the 12 ESPN analysts took the Giants.
I also picked against the Giants in my pick ‘em league, but I must admit I was of the thinking the Giants would probably win, but I wanted to pick the Panthers just in case. If the Giants win, I’m happy. If they lost, at least I got the pick right. I should have trusted my gut instead of being a wuss and hedging my bets.
It is not that impressive beating a 6-10 team from a year ago, but what is impressive is the way they did it. They completely dominated every single facet of the game. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the way they played, and the 36-7 final score indicates this.
On offense, they got back to being the balanced team we used to know. This offensive line physically dominated for the first time in a game since 2010. It was a beautiful thing to watch them open up holes for Andre Brown, who had 113 yards on 20 carries. For a team that only had two 100 yard rushers a season ago, it’s a good sign.
Eli Manning was surgical, carving up the porous Panthers secondary. He went 27-35 for 288 yards, threw one touchdown and did not turn the ball over. A better team may have intercepted Manning on a couple of occasions, but other than a couple bad decisions it was a flawless game from the two-time Super Bowl MVP. He made Ramses Barden look like an All-Pro, who ended the game with nine receptions for 138 yards.
The defense played about as good under the bend-don’t-break philosophy as they could have played. The Panthers moved the ball well between the 30s, but when they got into Giants territory, the Giants continued to make plays and tighten up to prevent the Panthers from scoring.
It was not a dominant performance in terms of yards allowed, but they made plays when it mattered, including intercepting Cam Newton three times. This was the type of game the Giants need from these two phases in every game this season.
Looking back at the game, honestly the phase that was the most impressive was special teams. Special teams plays do not get the publicity of either of the other two facets, but to not sing the Giants’ praises for this unit would be an injustice.
Lawrence Tynes was pin point on his field goals, nailing four of them with pretty much every single one going right down the middle. His kickoffs where high and deep as well, giving the coverage team the ability to make plays, and make plays they did. The kickoff coverage team forced a fumble on one occasion, but on just about every other they stopped the returner prior to the 20 yard line.
Had they not been doing this, the Panthers might have had more opportunities to score and keep the game within reach. Even Steve Weatherford, who was asked to punt just twice, was able to get both tries inside the 20 yard line.
One thing that will almost guarantee wins is creating turnovers and winning the field position battle. The Giants did both to the highest degree on Thursday.
Tom Coughlin has to be happy with the way this team performed. It was about as dominant as a win can get.