Giants vs. Panthers score, takeaways: New York slips past Carolina, improves to 2-0 for first time since 2016

Are the New York Giants the team to beat in the NFC East? Ahead of the season it was the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys getting divisional champion predictions, but after winning their second game this season the Giants are earning their spot in the conversation.

The Giants defeated the Carolina Panthers 19-16 on Sunday. The Giants are now 2-0 and the Panthers move to 0-2. This is the first time the Giants are 2-0 since 2016, the same year as their last playoff appearance.

The story of this game was a back-and-forth affair that went down to the very end. Neither team dominated, but each had some moments of solid play. In the end, the Giants did just enough to get ahead and having the ball to end the game put their fate in their own hands.

The kicking game was under the spotlight for both teams. Giants kicker Graham Gano faced his former team for the first time and put on a clinic, connecting on all four field goal attempts, including the game-winning 56-yarder late in the fourth quarter.

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones went 22-for-34 for 176 yards yards and one touchdown. On the ground, he had 10 carries for 21 yards including a first down with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth that ultimately set up victory formation.

Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield went 14-for-29 for 145 passing yards and one touchdown.

Unlike last week, we got to see the old Christian McCaffrey back, with the running back having a long of 45 yards that set up a field goal. The problem there, was it only set up a field goal.

Both teams need to work on getting in the end zone when they reach the red zone, something they struggled with in a game that was filled with field goals.

McCaffrey was certainly the player of the game for Carolina, but just like in years past, if the Panthers want to win they cannot just rely on CMC. 

Why the Giants won

The game was close right until the very end, but the Giants were able to get the first points on the board and keep the lead or a tie for the majority of the game. They stopped Mayfield on the majority of his red zone visits, which was the difference-maker in the game.

Huge stops on third down and a late game sack on Mayfield were enough to put them ahead with the ball in their hands as time was expiring. 

The MVP of the game was Gano, who was perfect.

Why the Panthers lost

Both teams struggled to build momentum to start the game on Sunday, but by the third quarter we finally saw some touchdowns. The Panthers needed to turn even one of those red zone visits into a touchdown rather than a field goal and the game would've changed.

They saw production out of McCaffrey, but were unable to capitalize on his big plays. McCaffrey is good, but he needs some help on offense to put the Panthers over the top.

Turning point

The game was back and forth well into the fourth quarter. The first half did not see a touchdown from either team as both booted two goals.

The turning point for the Giants was their first touchdown after two field goals. The Giants did not get in the end zone until halfway through the third quarter, when Daniel Bellinger caught a 16-yard pass from Daniel Jones.

Play of the Game

Gano was a Panther from 2012-2019 and showed up big against his former team. His four field goals proved the difference in this matchup. His game-winning kick earned him Play of the Game honors.

Here is his 56-yard winning boot:

What's next

The Giants have a Monday night divisional game against the Dallas Cowboys next week. The Cowboys are without quarterback Dak Prescott, who suffered a fractured thumb in Week 1 that required surgery. He is expected to miss anywhere from four-to-eight weeks, depending on his recovery. Cooper Rush will take his place in the meantime. 

The Panthers will face the New Orleans Saints (1-1) next week in an NFC South showdown. The Saints' offense is headed by quarterback Jameis Winston, who is reportedly dealing with an injury. Winston played in Sunday's loss to the Bucs with four fractures in his back. 

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@Panthers via Twitter
September 18, 2022, 8:18 PM
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The Giants are 2-0 for the first time since 2016.

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The Giants take a knee and that will do it, for a game that was defined by the kicking game.

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Jones' decision making was solid there, not just getting the first down, but keeping the clock running as this game winds down.

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JONES HAS WHEELS! Daniel Jones takes it himself for a first down.

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MAYFIELD SACKED.

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With 3:34 left to play, Graham Gano kicks a 56 yard field goal to give the Giants the lead. Gano has been consistent and impressive against his old team.

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@Giants via Twitter
September 18, 2022, 7:50 PM
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Injury update: Donte Jackson (hamstring) is questionable to return.

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@Panthers via Twitter
September 18, 2022, 7:42 PM
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Once again, we have a tie game.

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The Panthers made their fourth trips into and had to settle for a field goal for the third time.

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Christian McCaffrey is BACK. CMC bolts for 45 yards before he is finally chased down by the 30 yard line.

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With a game like this, every play matters as they play out the fourth quarter. One play can be the difference maker in this matchup.

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The Giants take the lead with a field goal.

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@Giants via Twitter
September 18, 2022, 7:29 PM
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@Panthers via Twitter
September 18, 2022, 7:27 PM
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