East Rutherford, N.J.: The New York Giants got four field goals from kicker Graham Gano and some stellar defensive play as they handed the Carolina Panthers a 19-16 loss at MetLife Stadium Sunday.
The Giants mustered just enough offense in a hard-fought defensive struggle to win. Although the Panthers outgained the Giants in total yards (275-265) and rushing yards (146-103), the Giants made several key defensive stops that dictated the game.
The Giants set the tone early by converting two early turnovers into six points, while the offense didn’t turn the ball over throughout. Quarterback Daniel Jones completed 22 of his 34 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Richie James was his top target, hauling in five catches for 51 yards.
Running back Saquon Barkley, coming off a resurgent performance against the Titans, racked up 72 rushing yards on 21 carries.
The Giants had a scoring opportunity right from the game’s first kickoff, as Carter Coughlin forced a fumble from Carolina kick returner Chuba Hubbard. Safety Dane Belton, making his NFL debut, recovered the ball at the Panthers’ 22-yard line. Although the offense went three-and-out, the Giants still got on the board with the first of Gano's four field goals, this one from 36 yards out.
It wasn’t long before the Giants got their next takeaway. On 3rd-and-22 at the Carolina 36, quarterback Baker Mayfield completed a 4-yard pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson, but Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes knocked the ball out, and fellow corner Adoree’ Jackson recovered the fumble, giving the Giants another short field with which to work.
This time, the Giants offense moved the ball. Facing 4th-and-1 at Carolina’s 31-yard line, Jones converted with a quarterback rollout. The offense would advance as far as Carolina’s 2-yard line, but a tackle for a loss and a sack forced the Giants to settle for another Gano field goal, this time from 33 yards out.
The Panthers proceeded to drive into the Giants’ red zone, but a dropped pass by wide receiver Shi Smith on 3rd-and-9 limited Carolina to just three points on kicker Eddy Pineiro's 31-yard field goal.
After three consecutive possessions ended in punts, the Panthers had great field position at the Giants’ 48-yard line. Carolina drove as far as the Giants’ 12, but linebacker Oshane Ximines got a crucial seven-yard sack on Mayfield. With a big stop by the Giants’ defense, the Panthers again settled for a Pineiro 32-yard field goal to tie the game into halftime.
The Giants’ offense went three-and-out to start the second half, while the Panthers drove 67 yards in just three plays, scoring the game's first touchdown on a Mayfield 16-yard pass to D.J. Moore.
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Now behind 13-6, the Giants’ offense suddenly came to life, responding with an 8-play, 75-yard drive. The first offensive spark came from a 15-yard pass from Jones to James on 3rd and 9.
Barkley, who was bottled up throughout the first half, broke off a 16-yard run, and Jones followed with completions to James and tight end Tanner Hudson for 12 and 16 yards, respectively.
On 2nd-and-10 at the Carolina 16-yard line, tight end Daniel Bellinger hauled in his first career catch and a touchdown to tie the game, scoring from 16 yards out as the nose of the ball narrowly broke the plane.
Carolina was forced to punt on their next drive, but the Giants’ defense paid the price. Defensive end Leonard Williams, one of the Giants’ key players, was injured during the drive and was ruled out with a knee injury.
After the two teams combined for five straight punts, the Giants mustered a 9-play, 58-yard scoring drive. The big play was a 24-yard pass from Jones to wide receiver David Sills. Gano capped the drive with a 51-yard field goal to put the Giants in front, 16-13.
The Panthers struck back when multi-talented running back Christian McCaffrey broke off a 49-yard run. But the Giants’ defense held strong in the red zone, and Carolina tied the game at 16 on Pineiro’s third field goal of the day.
On the Giants' next drive, the offense took 7:12 off the clock, advancing as far as the Carolina 30. The big play was a 14-yard run by Gary Brightwell on his first NFL carry for a big 3rd down conversion.
The drive stalled as the Giants faced 3rd and 23 at the Carolina 43, but they picked up five yards to set up a 56-yard field goal attempt for Gano. The reliable Giants kicker would hit his fourth field goal of the day to put his team back ahead, 19-16.
The defense held strong on the Panthers’ ensuing drive, as safety Julian Love got a huge third-down sack on Mayfield to force a punt.
The Giants’ offense then ran out the clock on their final drive. After a pair of runs by Barkley burned two of Carolina’s timeouts, Jones scrambled for a first down on 3rd-and-6 to ice the game.
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