A light flickered for the Giants' defense as New York defeated the Carolina Panthers 25-3 at home. The Panthers were on a three-game losing streak. Their offense was a struggling unit lacking confidence. Some may devalue the win for these reasons, but it's exactly what we needed to see from this Giants defense.
New York controlled time of possession, limited the Panthers' offense to 11 first downs, forced a bad Sam Darnold turnover, and outgained the Panthers 302 yards to 173 yards. The game certainly wasn't pretty for the Giants, but an extra number in the left side of the record column is invaluable.
During the Giants' second possession, the Giants seemingly had a touchdown on a play-action rollout to Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph's foot stepped out of bounds upon further review, setting up the Giants with a 2nd-and-goal at the 1-yard line.
The Giants haven't exactly inspired confidence in gaining a yeard when needed, and on this series, they stayed true to form. Luckily, the review of Dante Pettis' touchdown, which was close, was ruled in favor of New York.
The Giants' defense won this game. They recorded a safety, had a red zone interception, and forced six punts and two turnovers on downs. Both Darnold and backup quarterback P.J. Walker were sacked three times each; 2.5 sacks for rookie Azeez Ojulari and 1.5 sacks for Leonard Williams.
Dexter Lawrence had a sack as well and could have had a huge day. He drew two important holding penalties to help stifle the Panthers' offensive drives. Both Lawrence and Williams's ability to generate interior pressure messed with the mechanics of Sam Darnold, something that was a key to the game.
The Giants' secondary seemed to be in sync during this game as well. This was, in part, due to the Giants' defensive line putting pressure on Carolina, but there weren't many blown assignments, and the tackling seemed much better in this matchup.
Logan Ryan, James Bradberry, Xavier McKinney, Adoree Jackson, Jabrill Peppers, and Darnay Holmes made impressive plays throughout this game.
Ryan broke up a third-down pass, Bradberry had the interception, McKinney closed to the catch point several times in a prompt manner, Jackson took great angles to the football, Peppers had the sack on Darnold, which was an excellent effort play after getting his legs taken out by Hubbard, and Holmes almost had a pick-six, but couldn't hang onto the tough interception.
Carolina wanted to establish the run with Chuba Hubbard and Royce Freeman. Still, the Giants' defense was too strong up front, and new linebacker addition Benardrick McKinney proved to be a valuable piece of the Giants' rush defense. The Panthers averaged 3.3 yards-per-carry. Overall, the Giants' defense was an impressive performance, a unit that certainly needed confidence.
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Another key to the game was establishing the run with Devontae Booker, and the Giants failed to do that for much of the game. The offensive line of this Giants' team is still a big problem.
Booker had a 19-yard touchdown run to help salvage his final statistics, but the offensive line and Booker didn't do much on the ground before that late fourth quarter rush.
Daniel Jones had a solid game and found eight different Giants' receivers. New York ruled out Sterling Shepard after pregame warmups, and they were without Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. Jones used Evan Engram, Dante Pettis, John Ross, Devontae Booker, Kyle Rudolph, and Darius Slayton, who just returned from injury.
Even Daniel Jones had a reception on the Giants' best offensive drive; an 11-play 75-yard drive concluded with the Pettis touchdown. Pettis was the player who threw the pass to Jones, as his quarterback made a spectacular catch with one hand to collect the ball.
The defense was all over the Panthers, as were the Panthers defenders with the Giants offense. It was obvious that the Giants had to game plan around the middle of the Panthers' defense. The Giants' offensive line couldn't get much push-up front. Jason Garrett deserves credit for this win as well.
He wasn't creative near the red zone to start the game, but the touchdown pass to Pettis was a creative rub type of route. Garrett also used Daniel Jones' athletic ability to his advantage. Most drives featured play-action boot rollouts with easy 3-level reads for Jones to either pick up a couple of yards with his legs or find a receiver near the sideline running away from coverage.
The offense certainly still needs work, but they were up against a tough defense with a strong pass rush. Jones was sacked twice and was pressured often, but Garrett didn't put him into many situations where he had five-man protection on a five-step drop. Jones finished the day with 203-passing yards and a touchdown. He added 28-yards on the ground as well.
The Giants didn't defeat the 85-Bears, but they earned their first home victory against an opponent they were supposed to beat. That hasn't been consistent all season for this team. This Giants' defense needed to rise to this occasion and defeat a struggling Panthers team, and they did.
This team needed some sort of confidence boost, and they received it against the Panthers' offense. Let's see if they can ride the momentum into a more promising second half of the season.
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