by Alexander George & Glenn Warciski
With 6 seconds left, Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano scores on a 63 yard field goal as the Panthers defeat the New York Giants 33 – 31. Due to Gano’s heroic kick, New York Giants Underground staff agrees that he is the MVP of the game. Gano is 1 yard short of the NFL record, set by Matt Prater (Broncos/Lions), and is currently tied with Tom Dempsey (Saints), Jason Elam (Broncos/Falcons), Sebastian Janikowski (Raiders/Seahawks) and David Akers (Eagles/49ers/Lions) for the second longest field goal of all-time. History also repeats itself as the last time the Giants faced the Panthers in 2015, Gano hit a game winning 43 yard field goal as well defeating Big Blue 38 – 35.
Despite 2 interceptions thrown, Eli Manning (22 for 36, 326 yards 2TDs and 2 INTs, 86.1 RTG) had one of his best games of the season. Manning threw for most yards of the season and also had a better quarterback rating than the 2015 MVP Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. After the 2nd interception, Manning was a perfect 5 for 5 with 105 yards thrown and 2 touchdowns. He also kept one drive alive by converting on a 4th and 1 with a quarterback sneak which led to a 36 yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas.
Odell Beckham Jr. (8REC 131 yards 1 TD, Long 33 yds.) threw his very first touchdown pass. Saquon Barkley reception of a 57 yard touchdown thrown by OBJ midway threw the second quarter was the first Giants touchdown of the game. Saquon Barkley (15 ATT 48 yards, Long 30 yards & 4 REC 81 yards 2TDs, Long 57 yards) provided the Giants with a crucial 15 yard catch, run and jump over the pylon to give the Giants a 31 – 30 lead with only over 1 minute left in the game. (With this game, Barkley is currently tied for second place with 5 consecutive games of over 100 all-purpose yards.)
Cam Newton (21 for 35 237 yards, 2TDs 2INTs 75.6 RTG & 8 Rushing attempts for 29 yards, Long 9yds) was held to less than 100 yards in the first half; including a 25 yard pass to receiver Curtis Samuel (2 REC 37 yards 1TD). Over 60% of his passing yardage occurred in the 2nd half. Newton’s added dimension as a runner helped the Panthers convert two critical first downs. The Panthers quarterback also had a higher yards per carry average, 3.6, than McCaffrey at 3.4.
Devin Funchess (4REC 53 yards, Long 21 yards) lead all receivers for the Panthers in yardage but Christian McCaffrey (5REC 35 yards 1 TD) scored on an 18 yard pass giving the Panthers a 2 possession cushion early in the 4th quarter.
The Panthers had the better performance on both special teams and defense. OBJ incidental contact while blocking a Panther player, resulted in a Panthers touchdown recovery by Colin Jones. Panthers D also prevented Big Blue from converting a single 3rd down conversion in the entire game. The Panthers safety Mike Adams, (6 tackles 5 solo, 2 passes defended) who is the defensive player of the game, intercepted Manning twice. One of the 2 interceptions was at the Panthers 25 yard line disrupting the Giants opportunity to take the lead late in the 3rd quarter. Penalties also hurt the Giants defense (8 for 62 yards) including a questionable unnecessary roughness call on Landon Collins (8 tackles, 4 solo, 1 pass defended, 1 QB hit) on a 3rd down play which ultimately lead to a McCaffrey touchdown reception.
The 2 Giants defenders that kept the game close were Curtis Riley (3 tackles 3 solo, 1 pass defended) and Janoris Jenkins (4 tackles, 3 solo , 2 passes defended) with an interception each. Linebacker Connor Barwin’s lone Giant sack limited the Panthers to a 39 yard field goal late in the 4th quarter and gave the opportunity for Big Blue in what was thought to be the game winning touchdown score.
But ultimately, it came down to which field goal kicker would carry their team to victory. Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas, who has been perfect all season, went 3 for 3 with a season long 53 yards and gave the Giants 11 points total. As good as Rosas was, Graham Gano (4 for 4, Long 63 yards, 15 points) was a little better concluding with a game winning kick for the ages.
OBJ: His ESPN interview sent shock waves around the NFL, and most importantly the Giants. Although he came across as a frustrated player on a terrible team, some of his words resonated with Giants fans. In other words, the losing has become tiresome. With the loss to the Panthers, the Giants are 4-17 in their last 21 games. An avalanche of losses has ticked off OBJ and many Giants fans. On the other hand, he took a shot at his head coach and gave a tepid endorsement of Eli Manning. As Alex mentioned, OBJ did have a fantastic game. But he dropped two passes one of those in the end zone and the other on a fourth down attempt. Plus, he made a major blunder on a punt return. Instead of getting away from the ball on a punt, the ball hit his leg, subsequently, Panthers safety Colin Jones recovered the ball for a Panthers touchdown. At this point in the game, the Panthers jumped out to a 14-3 lead with the raucous crowd in the game. It appeared the Panthers were going to runaway with this game.
Shurmur: Down 17-3, the Giants chances of winning this game looked bleak. Give credit to Shurmur for calling a gadget play. OBJ threw a touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley. This trick play got the Giants back in the game at 17-10. Shurmur’s Giants showed grit by coming back in this game and almost winning it. This gadget play and opening up the offense was the difference compared to previous weeks. Manning completed passes 33, 28, 40, and 22. The Giants scored more than 30 points for the first time since 2015. Furthermore, using OBJ on punt returns told me Shurmur knew the sense of urgency. The Giants needed to win this game. So, he pulled out all stops. Overall, a good coaching job. The team was outplayed in the first quarter and one-half, but they stood their ground for the remainder of the game.
Manning: Maligned all week by fans and gasbags in the media, undaunted, Eli performed at a high level. Despite throwing two interceptions, he played an outstanding game. For his entire career and today, he was clutch when it counted. He drove his team down the field for the apparent winning score.
Offensive line: Again the Giants did not get their running game going. 50 yards total rushing. This is a major concern. Especially since they signed LT Nate Solder to a mega contract. I find it confounding the Giants cannot run behind their big left tackle. On a good note, Manning was sacked once. Still much more work to do with regards to the running game.
3rd down conversions: Giants were 0 for 7.
Defense: Giants recorded 1 sack by Barwin. Right now, the Giants are tied for last in the NFL with a total of 6 sacks. On Carolina’s final possession, the Giants defense could not sack Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. The Giants have been missing their fourth quarter pass rush. It has been awhile when a Giant defensive player had a sack in a big spot.
Penalties: Giants got a raw deal on penalties. One which sticks out is the penalty on Giants safety Landon Collins for roughing the passer. In the NFL, as Bill Walsh has stated, “Penalties are like the weather,” he said. “If it’s going to rain, I don’t say, ‘It’s raining. It’s unfair.’ He had complete detachment from penalty calls. Not because he believed officials always get things right or he thought he and his teams never got screwed by bad calls. Nothing like that. Calls were out of his control. He wouldn’t waste a particle of energy fighting an unwinnable fight. Just move onto the next thing. Deal with the available reality.
A short week for the Giants, they play the Eagles on Thursday Night at home. So the Giants at 1-4 have to defeat the Eagles to keep this season meaningful.