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Five Numbers That Mattered Most in New York Giants' Win Over Carolina

The Giants came up with a big win by doing mostly everything they needed to the right way, and the numbers reflected that.

Coming off two consecutive embarrassing losses where the team looked lifeless, the New York Giants couldn’t have asked for a more perfect opponent to face to earn some momentum before the toughest stretch of their 2021 season begins.

Welcoming the struggling Carolina Panthers and one-time New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold to his former home, the Giants and Panthers engaged in one of the oddest first-half scoring outputs by two professional football teams in recent memory.

Following the halftime break, however, the defense reintroduced Darnold to his former MetLife ghosts while the offense capitalized with 23 unanswered points, earning the Giants their second win of the season.

There were a lot of numbers this week that contributed to the Giants' big (and much needed) win, but here are five in particular that jump out as being primary contributors in the Giants' 25-3 victory over the Panthers.

First Half Scoreboard and Ball Possession

For the first 30 minutes of football, many might have wondered if they accidentally had the San Francisco Giants baseball game on instead of the New York Giants.

The Giants and Panthers spent the entire first half deadlocked in a baseball-like scoreboard, where the score was 5-3 Giants at halftime.

Carolina scored first with 8:37 remaining on a 45-yard field goal by kicker Zane Gonzalez to take an early 3-0 advantage. They maintained that lead until their first possession of the second quarter when Darnold was called for intentional grounding on a pass from his own end zone. On the play, the Giants earned a safety to make it 3-2 Panthers.

Two minutes later, the Giants' first possession of the quarter stalled just outside the red zone. Still, the powerful leg of kicker (and former Panther) Graham Gano gave the Giants a 49-yard kick through the uprights to give the Giants a 5-3 lead that the Giants would never relinquish.

Also of note in the first half, the Giants and Panthers had relatively short scoring drives. Outside of their 13-play opening drive, the Panthers' next longest drive in the first half was a 9-play, 52-yard drive that ended on James Bradberry's interception of a Darnold pass at the NYG 25-yard line. Carolina also went three-and-out on four out of their six first-half drives.

The Giants fared better in the first half, not having any three-and-out affairs. Their longest drive was a 9-play attempt that ended when they couldn't convert on fourth down. They also had a couple of six-play drives, one of which ended in Gano's field goal.

Azeez Ojulari and the Giants Defense’ Dominance: 6 Sacks

Before Week 7, the Giants defense under Patrick Graham had been feeling the brunt of immense criticism for their lack of production on the field after allowing 38 points and 365 total yards of offense against the Rams. They’ve also been criticized for allowing a 42-point differential in the final two minutes of the first half this season, the worst in the NFL.

In Sunday’s win, none of that was an issue, as the defense that kept the Giants ahead of the Panthers until the offense took over the game in the second half.

The Giants defense made Darnold’s return to MetLife miserable, getting to the former USC Trojan, and later on, his backup P.J. Walker, a total of ten times and sacking them six times for a combined 27 yards lost.

The standout player of the game on the Giants defense was rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari, who compiled 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, and three tackles for a loss. One of those sacks came late in the second quarter when Ojulari pushed Darnold and the Panthers offense back 4 yards. Two plays later, Bradberry secured his interception to stall the drive.


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Daniel Jones Pulling Off the Football Stat Cycle

If anybody on the Giants desperately needed a rebound performance on Sunday, it was Daniel Jones, who was coming off a poor outing in Week 6 that saw him complete only 29 of his 51 passes for 242 yards and throw two interceptions.

Jones fittingly responded Sunday by executing the football cycle on the stat sheet. From the pocket, Jones went 23-33 for 203 yards and a passing touchdown. His longest pass of the game was 27-yards to receiver Dante Pettis in the second quarter.

Jones contributed eight keeps for 28 yards, his longest run going for 14 yards as he finished with a 3.5 per-rush average.

The quarterback even got himself into the receiving game for the first time in his entire football career. Jones handed the ball off to Devontae Booker NYG-47 and proceeded to run towards the right sideline with no defense. Booker then flipped the ball to Pettis on a reverse, and Pettis, whose father Gary is the third base coach for the Houston Astros, scrambled across the field and connected with Jones on a 16-yard completion.

The cherry on the cake was Jones, who admittedly ran a poor route, did his best Odell Beckham Jr. impression to bring the ball down and gain his first career reception.

Panthers Poor Offensive Efficiency-Third Down Efficiency

After their opening drive ended with a Zane Gonzalez field goal that bounced in from the left goal post, the Panthers' offense was a complete disaster.

The Panthers were outgained in total net offensive yardage, 302-173. They also averaged 2.8 yards per offensive play compared to the Giants' 4.5 yards and averaged 3.3 yards per rush and 2.6 yards per passing attempt as the Giants defense continued to show no mercy.

Carolina's biggest issue on offense was its efficiency on third downs. The Panthers were 2/15 (13.3%) on third-down conversions, a stat that will ensure any team a defeat in a league where defense may win championships, but offense is what leads to one.

Graham Gano Ties NFL Kicking Record in Revenge Game

Giants kicker Graham Gano said the Panthers game was quickly circled on his calendar when the Giants’ 2021 schedule was released. The former Carolina kicker had issues with the Panthers' handling of his injury from a couple of years ago and undoubtedly welcomed the opportunity to show his old club that his powerful kicking leg is indeed alive and well these days.

Along with his 49-yard kick in the second quarter, Gano helped the Giants build their lead in the fourth quarter with two additional kicks from 53 and 44 yards, respectively.

With the 53-yard kick successful, Gano officially made his 10th consecutive field goal try from 50 or more yards deep with the Giants. That feat tied the current NFL record for field goals from that range since the start of the 2020 season. Gano will likely have a chance to break the record next week on Monday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gano has been an important weapon for the Giants since signing with them before last year's training camp. That said, the Giants know they need to be productive in the red zone and score touchdowns if they want a better chance to win more games this year. 

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