In week three of the 2013 NFL season, the Carolina Panthers got their first win at home. They took on the dangerous New York Giants who have a successful track record against the Panthers. However, this matchup was one for the record books for the Panthers.
The Panthers made team history with the largest win margin of 38. They also held the high-powered Giants offense to a whopping zero points. This was a very important game for both teams considering they both started the season with a disappointing 0-2 start. The Panthers had high hopes for this season, but they somehow found a way to lose the lead in the fourth quarter the first two weeks.
The biggest issue with the Panthers in the first two weeks was the lack of production by the offense. Quarterback Cam Newton was struggling with his accuracy and the run game was slow to get started. The offense had no spark in them, and they were very slow and boring. They had way too many three-and-outs which gave the defense little rest on the bench.
The defense, on the other hand, looked really good. Luke Kuechly was named captain for his second season with the Panthers, and he is on pace for having a rookie season repeat. Last season he led the league in tackles and was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. He is a fantastic, young linebacker with a bright future ahead of him. However, with little production and scoring from the offense, the defense was in over their heads.
This week, a new team stepped onto the field at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. The Cardiac Cats came out with a vengeance. Not only was the offense producing yards and points, but the defense held the Giants to big goose egg. The defense was lead by the front four defensive linemen who finished the game with a total of seven sacks. The rest of the defense added one forced fumble and one interception. Among the fiercest on their line, defensive end Greg Hardy had five tackles and three of the seven sacks. Hardy, along with the rest of the defense, was phenomenal holding Giants quarterback Eli Manning to only 119 yards.
Entering week three, Manning was in third place for most passing yards. This was a huge worry for the Panthers young and inexperienced secondary. However, Manning had very little time in the pocket and spent most of the time on his back. The Giants run game was also non-existent during the game. The Giants totaled on 60 yards on the ground, whereas DeAngelo Williams alone had 120 rushing yards for the Panthers. The Giants were out-played and it showed on the scoreboard.
The Panthers are entering the bye week with a fantastic victory under their belt. They finally showed the fans and analysts the level they are capable of performing at. With this win, the Panthers have momentum on their side. Unfortunately, the bye week might take that away. The Panthers need to approach practice for the next two weeks with the same intensity and mentality they showed in week three.
They have a lot of time to prepare for the struggling Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers need to stay focused and look to pull out another victory in week five to improve to 2-2. No team has ever made the playoffs after starting the season 0-2, but if the Panthers play every week like they did against the Giants, expect them to make history.