Game Day Rewind: Carolina 20 – Giants 10
The New York Giants starting offense struggled to make the big plays while the starting defense not only made the big plays, but also scored the only touchdown for New York in their 20-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The starting defense, which had new faces such as DT Linval Joseph and DE Jason Pierre-Paul, logged a solid night’s work, allowing only one successful Panthers series that resulted in an 18-yard touchdown pass from QB Jimmy Clausen to TE Greg Olsen to tie the score at 7-7 in teh first quarter.
Otherwise, Perry Fewell’s unit was mostly flying to the ball and making plays, the biggest of which was LB Michael Boley’s first quarter pick of a Clausen pass intended for WR Brandon LaFell. Boley, who returned the pick 56 yards for the score, benefitted from the pressure applied by the defensive star of the game, Pierre-Paul, who managed to pressure Clausen.
“It was a great way to start the preseason for the defense by putting some points on the board,” Boley said.
Pierre-Paul, who received the start in place of Osi Umenyiora, recorded two sacks for minus 18 yards, two quarterback hits, and two tackles for a loss, finishing second on the team in tackles with 4 (three solo) in what was a big night for the second-year player.
“I thought I played pretty good,” Pierre-Paul said. “I knew what I was supposed to do.”
Meanwhile on offense, the Giants starters struggled to convert on third down, converting just three of 16 attempts (19%) as the new-look offensive line featuring LT Will Beatty, LG David Diehl and C David Baas had some communication issues.
Also getting off to a slow start was QB Eli Manning, who finished four of nine for 36 yards and zero touchdowns. (55.8 passer rating). Manning seemed to be especially out of sync with his receivers on timing routes.
“We were never able to get into a great rhythm,” said Manning. “We missed a few opportunities and made a couple mental mistakes.”
The missed opportunities weren’t just limited to the offense, which was outgained by the Panthers 342 yards to 298.
Special teams seemed to pick up right where it left off last season in terms of being inconsistent. Both Matt Dodge and Steve Weatherford punted well, but both were also victimized by poor tackling efforts by the punt coverage team, as Panters punt returner Armanti Edwards averaged 16 yards on three returns.
The normally reliable Lawrence Tynes, who suffered a thigh contusion on his fourth field goal attempt of the night, had an off-night as well, making just one of his four field goal attempts.
The Giants also appear to be no closer to determining who their punt returner will be as rookie Jerrel Jernigan finished with a 4.3 average on three attempts while Darius Reynaud finished with a 7.0 average on two attempts, missing a golden opportunity to exploit some running room on his second return when his gunners opened up a lane.
Despite the game’s outcome, there were several bright spots for the Giants. For starters, they didn’t turn the ball over once, finishing with +2 in the turnover department. They also limited their penalties to five infractions, including only one false start infraction committed by the third string offense.
Several players also made strong cases for roster spots, including WR Devin Thomas, who had three receptions for 23 yards; DB Michael Coe, who had a solid night on both the defense and on special teams; and DE Alex Hall, who was instrumental in getting pressure on the quarterback and who came up with one of the Giants’ four sacks on the evening.
QB Sage Rosenfels, who got the first chance to make a case for a roster spot, finished the night 13 of 19 for 129 yard, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He was also sacked twice behind the second string offensive line.
The game also marked the return of WR Domenik Hixon, who while not returning punts or kickoffs, finished as the Giants’ leading receiver with five catches for 86 yards, including a long of 37. Hixon’s surgically repaired knee looked no worse for the wear.
The Giants, who will next take the field of play in nine days in a nationally televised game against Chicago, will return to practice on Monday at the Timex Performance Center.
The following Giants did not participate in the game due to injury: DB Joe Burnett (hamstring), WR Sam Giguere (groin), TE Travis Beckum (hamstring), LB Clint Sintim (knee), C Jim Cordle (knee), DB Brian Jackson (back), and DE Osi Umenyiora (knee). Also not participating were the two PUPpies, C Adam Koets (knee) and WR Ramses Barden (ankle).
Bear Pascoe, who is competing for the starting job at tight end, started at fullback, ahead of rookie Henry Hynoski. Jake Ballard started at tight end.
Tynes, who suffered a thigh contusion when a Panthers defender ran into him on his fourth field goal attempt, was to have his status updated tomorrow.