|RB Andre Brown impresses in Giants victory against Carolina. (US Presswire)|
The story entering Thursday's 36-7 thumping of the Carolina Panthers was all about who wasn't playing for the New York Giants. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was a late scratch after aggravating his surgically repaired right foot and running back Ahmad Bradshaw sat with a sore neck; but Ramses Barden and Andre Brown each picked up the slack with career performances. The Giants won the turnover battle, the possession battle, and thanks to five perfect field goals from Lawrence Tynes, the battle on the scoreboard.
Eli Manning had to throw for 510 yards to get the Giants' first win of the season, but things weren't nearly that difficult in Week 3. Manning finished 27 of 35 for 288 yards and one touchdown, while Brown reeled off 113 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries. Victor Cruz saw plenty of double teams, but Barden and Martellus Bennett combined for 15 catches and 211 yards. Most importantly, the offensive line looked solid even without right tackle David Diehl, who was out with an injury to his right MCL.
Defesnsive end Osi Umenyiora finally got a sack and Michael Boley picked off his third pass in as many games. The best performances may have come from defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who was incredibly disruptive, or rookie Jayron Hosley who had an interception and held Panthers wideout Brandon LaFell to just one catch. Hosley (hamstring) and Corey Webster (hand) each left the game, but Webster returned. Jason Pierre-Paul (half a sack) and Prince Amukamara were impressive as well.
Special teams: A
Both of Steve Weatherford's punts were downed inside the 20-yard line and Tynes hit kicks from 49 and 47 yards away. The return game was competent, but the coverage team was excellent, recovering two fumbles from Panthers return man Joe Abrams. Linebacker Spencer Paysinger (forced fumble, fumble recovery, two tackles) has become a standout on special teams.
The fact that the Giants were without some of the cornerstones of their offense didn't matter in the end. What did matter is that offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was able to work with Manning and take what the Panthers were giving up, defensively. Carolina was already poor against the run, but they looked dreadful defending Bennett and Barden as well. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell deserves credit for limiting the Panthers to 60 yards rushing. Some of that had to do with the lead (Carolina was forced to pass more often in the second half) but Fewell's unit yielded only 267 passing yards and came away with three interceptions. Not a bad day at the office.
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