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Five Plays That Mattered Most in New York Giants Win Over Carolina

Coach Gene Clemons takes a look at the five most significant plays in the Giants' 25-3 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Despite the score, the Giants' 25-3 win against the Carolina Panthers was not pretty. However, it was gritty, and grit is a necessity when you have suffered as many injuries at key positions as New York has.

Those key plays manifest themselves and usually are the difference between a disappointing loss and a morale-boosting victory.

Here are the five plays that made the difference in the win over Carolina.

3rd-and-3, NYG 28, 9:07, Q1

The Play: Third down stop leads to a Panthers field goal.

Early in the game, the question was whether the Giants could stop the rush and get off the field on third down. On this opening drive, the Panthers moved the ball down the field. They even converted a fourth and one in their territory. They had already accumulated 30 yards rushing on the drive and converted one of the two third-down opportunities on the drive (a third and medium).

Now, faced with 3rd-and-8 and close to the red zone, New York needed to seize the opportunity to stop the bleeding and shut down this touchdown opportunity.

On the pass play, the Giants rushed five defenders and forced Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold to get the ball out quicker than he would want. He dumped it out to the running back, who was quickly met by both safeties, Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan, for a minimal gain. The Panthers settled for a field goal.

3rd-and-9 CAR 3, 14:53, Q2

The Play: Giants get a safety.

Sometimes the plays that are not made can derail a team and shatter momentum. When Kyle Rudolph’s touchdown was taken off the board, and the Giants could not punch it in from a yard out, that was a momentum killer.

If the Panthers had been able to dig themselves out of their own end zone, it could have been a game-changing momentum switch. The Giants defense stepped up again. They could stop Hubbard for a yard on first down, and they forced an incompletion on second down.

They needed to get off the field and put the ball back into the hands of their offense. The defensive line produced a ferocious rush with a stunt off the right side.

The pressure causes Darnold to panic, and he throws the ball away, but when you commit intentional grounding in the end zone, it is an automatic safety. Not only does it stop the drive and give the ball back to the Giants, but it also puts points on the board.

2nd-and-14 NYG 15,3:37, Q2

The Play: Holding call on the Panthers

Carolina was driving down the field and into the red zone. Darnold was 5-5 for 55 yards on the drive. In the previous play, the Giants were able to stop the Panthers run for a four-yard loss which put them into a second and long situation.

The rush has not been good in obvious passing situations this season. The defense was flying around on the snap, and right tackle Taylor Moton was called for a holding penalty.


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That pushed the offense back another 10 yards. Darnold decided to press the issue instead of staying patient on the next play, and he threw an interception to James Bradberry.

Getting the type of pressure that makes a tackle hold you has benefits that are felt far beyond the current play. That is an example of making the opponent perfect in a game built on imperfection.

Play 2: 3rd-and-12 NYG 38, 5:39, Q3

The Play: Jones to Booker for a first down across midfield.

Over halfway through the third quarter and the score was still 5-3 Giants. New York needed to create some separation, and Daniel Jones needed to make a play for his team.

Another quick possession would not have been great for New York. After back-to-back plays that picked up two yards or less, the Giants put the ball in the hands of Jones to make a play.

He dropped back, scanned the field, and did not have anyone open downfield or in the intermediate area. He was able to buy some time with his feet and move to his right.

Booker, who was in blocking, leaked out, and Jones could dump the ball off to him with room to run. Fourteen yards later, the Giants had a first down and crossed the 50-yard line and into striking range. Seven plays later, they scored a touchdown and shaved six and a half minutes off the game clock.

3rd-and-9 CAR 20, :15, Q3

The Play: Defensive line pressure ends Darnold’s day.

Another obvious passing down and another opportunity for the Giants to get after the quarterback. The Giants rushed four, and they did their inlaw stunt on both sides. Azeez Ojulari and Dexter Lawrence were able to get pressure in the face of Darnold, which made him escape to his left.

Leonard Williams was able to chase him out of bounds, but before he could gain a yard. That registered as a sack for Williams, but it was a team effort. The defensive backs did a good job of covering which allowed the line to get pressure.

On their next series down 15-3 with almost a full quarter left, head coach Matt Rhule pulled Sam Darnold out of the game, all but signaling that his team was waving the white flag.

The defense had something to prove today, and the offensive contribution was just enough. There is still a need for improvement and consistency so that they can play better against good teams.

Getting a few players to return from injury would help, and it would increase the team's overall depth. In sports, a win is a win, and you can be sure that after back-to-back embarrassing losses, any win feels great. 

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