This past Sunday, the Carolina Panthers delivered a beating to the New York Giants in Bank of America Stadium. Both teams were looking to make a statement and earn their first win of the season. The Panthers not only received their first win, but they made a huge statement when they shutout the Giants in a 38-0 victory. The Panthers’ offense had a great game, but the defense had an even better game. Panthers’ defensive end Greg Hardy was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Leading up to the Week 3 matchup, Hardy only had a total of seven tackles. Hardy is part of a defensive line that has high expectations. Hardy recorded a total of 11 sacks last season, but was off to a slow start with zero sacks. However, a different team stepped out on the field in Charlotte this past Sunday. In the first half alone, Hardy recorded three sacks on Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning; Hardy also finished the game with a total of eight tackles. He completely out-performed his first two weeks in one game. For this reason, the NFL gave him the award for best performance by a defensive player for the week.
Hardy was a wrecking ball that could not be tamed by the Giants’ offensive line. In replay, Hardy used different tactics to reach Manning and either pressure him into a bad throw or knock him down for a sack. Hardy used his leverage and pure power to bull rush right through the Giants’ O-line. In order to accomplish this feat against a larger opponent, he came off the snap and remained lower to the ground, and got his hands in good position on the inside of the blocker. With this technique, he was able to use his power to direct the blocker back into the pocket and break off to make a play on the quarterback. Another technique he used was his speed and agility. He was able to throw the blocker off by faking one direction, and then, with his quick feet, change the point of attack and get around to the quarterback.
Even if Hardy wasn’t making the direct play on the ball, he still was causing problems and forcing bad decisions by the Giants’ offense. Either Hardy was pressuring Manning into a bad pass, forcing the quarterback to scramble into other Panthers’ defensive player, or taking on the double team to free up teammates. Hardy was in on almost every play. Since his spectacular performance, and with the rest of the defense, they were able to hold Manning to just 119 passing yards. They also stuffed the Giants’ run game to a total of just 50 yards. Hardy definitely earned this award, and if the defense can continue to improve and play this hard every week, they will be seeing many more victories throughout this season.