Breaking Down Panthers' Dominance on Third Down in Win Over Giants

In Carolina's stunning blowout of the Giants Sunday, the Panthers did the things that good teams do: Force and avoid turnovers (4-0), score touchdowns and not field goals (5 of 7 Panthers drives inside the New York 30 ended in the end zone) and avoid penalties (4, for just 20 yards).

The Panthers also dominated on third down, on both sides of the ball. Carolina converted 10 of 15 third-down attempts on offense, including 8 of its first 9. On defense the Panthers stuffed 8 of 13 New York third-down plays, including three in a row in the second quarter. That second quarter stretch, mixed in with four straight Panthers third-down conversions, allowed Carolina to push a 3-0 advantage to 24-0 at the half and essentially bury the Giants.

Here is a look at how the Panthers made those key plays:

Situation: Third-and-9 Giants, ball on the Giants 34. Panthers led 3-0, 14:18 to play in the second quarter.

Formations: The Giants lined up in a shotgun with three receivers (two right), one back and an H-back left. Carolina used four down linemen with one defender showing blitz over left tackle, two other defenders in the box, two corners in press coverage and one corner a few yards off a receiver.

What happened: Linebacker Jon Beason sacked quarterback Eli Manning for a 9-yard loss.

How it happened: Beason did not show blitz, starting the play in the middle of the box. He delayed a blitz over right tackle and was not blocked. Manning could not find an open receiver immediately, and Beason got him.

The result: New York punted on the next play, after failing to convert a third-down play for the first time in the game. (The Giants' opening possession ended in a fumble inside the red zone).

 

Situation: Third-and-6 Carolina, Carolina 41. Carolina led 3-0, 12:27 to play in second.

Formations: Carolina lined up with four receivers (two in each slot) and one back. New York used four linemen with two other defenders in the box and one defensive back lined up over the left slot. Four defensive backs were deep.

What happened: Quarterback Matt Moore hit Panthers receiver Steve Smith for 11 yards.

How it happened: Smith lined up in the left slot and ran to the left flat, uncovered. Moore faked a handoff to the back and connected with Smith at the Carolina 41. Corner Kevin Dockery flew up to tackle Smith, but missed him. Smith dashed down the sideline before the Giants forced him out of bounds at the New York 48.

The result: The Panthers had a first down and extended their drive. Four plays later, Jonathan Stewart ran for a touchdown to put Carolina up 10-0.

 

Situation: Third-and-13 Giants, New York 12. 10-0 Carolina, 9:48 to play in second.

Formations: The Giants lined up in shotgun with three receivers (two right), one back and one tight end right. Carolina used three linemen, two more defenders in the box, two corners playing off, two defensive backs in the middle of the field at the 18 and two deep safeties.

What happened: Manning threw incomplete for receiver Mario Manningham.

How it happened: Giants receiver Steve Smith went in motion from wide right to the right slot, drawing a defensive back towards the middle of the field. A linebacker dropped back into coverage at the snap and the Panthers rushed only three players. Manning had time to throw and Manningham got open near the left sideline at the Giants 37, between two defenders playing a zone. But Manning's throw was high.

The result: The Giants went three-and-out and punted following a Panthers touchdown, giving Carolina the ball back at its 49 after a 39-yard punt.

 

Situation: Third-and-1 Carolina, Giants 30. 10-0 Carolina, 7:49 to play in second.

Formations: Carolina lined up in I-formation with one tight end right, one H-back right and one receiver left. New York used four linemen with two defenders in the box, two defenders showing blitz off the edges, one corner in press coverage, one defensive back off right tackle at the 27 and one safety in the middle at the 23.

What happened: Stewart ran up the middle for 5 yards.

How it happened: The safety in the middle ran up to blitz over left tackle as the H-back went in motion to the left side. Stewart ran over right guard, plowed threw the line and fell forward. 

The result: The Panthers had another first down, again extending a drive in Giants territory. That set up the following three plays later:

 

Situation: Third-and-7 Carolina, New York 23. 10-0 Carolina, 5:47 to play in second.

Formations: Carolina lined up in shotgun with three receivers left and one receiver right, and one back. New York used four linemen with two other defenders in the box, one corner in press coverage and two more corners near the line.

What happened: Moore threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Mushin Muhammad.

How it happened: The Giants rushed five defenders, leaving corner Terrell Thomas in single coverage on Muhammad on the outside to Moore's right. Thomas ran with Muhammad, but the receiver separated from him just as the ball arrived by the goal line and caught it in stride.

The result: A third straight third-down conversion and the extra point gave Carolina a 17-0 edge.

 

Situation: Third-and-11 Carolina, New York 20. 17-0 Carolina, 3:33 to play in second.

Formations: Carolina lined up in shotgun with four receivers (three right) and one back. New York used three linemen with two defenders showing blitz up the middle, one defender showing blitz over left tackle, two defensive backs in the box and two corners playing off.

What happened: Four plays after a Richard Marshall interception of Manning gave the Panthers the ball at the New York 29, Moore completed a swing pass to the back, Mike Goodson, for 13 yards.

How it happened: Moore threw quickly to Goodson, who flared right and ran upfield behind blocks from Muhammad and tight end Jeff King. He had enough space to get to the marker before he encountered any resistance, and was knocked out of bounds at the 7.

The result: A fourth straight third-down conversion gave Carolina a first-and-goal. Two plays later, Moore tossed a touchdown pass to King. 

 

Situation: Third-and-15 New York, Giants 22. 24-0 Carolina, 1:40 to play in second.

Formations: New York lined up in shotgun with four receivers (two on each side) and one back. Carolina used three linemen with three other defenders in the box and two corners playing off.

What happened: Manning completed a pass to tight end Kevin Boss for 5 yards.

How it happened: The Giants ran a no-huddle and defensive tackle Damione Lewis ran off the field just before the snap, avoiding a penalty for 12 men on the field. The Panthers rushed only two players, with defensive end Everette Brown spying the back. Manning had time but dumped the ball off to Boss in the right flat. Linebacker James Anderson tackled him at the 27.

The result: A third straight stop of the Giants on third down prevented New York from cutting into the lead before halftime. By the time the Giants got the ball in the second half, they trailed 31-0.

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