Cam Newton had undoubtedly his best game of the season, accounting for four touchdowns, three passing and one rushing. He ended the day with 223 yards passing and 45 yards rushing. He "twisted the knife" into the Giants hopes, as he began the second half with two touchdown drives with passes to Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn, Jr. His amazing turnaround was a big reason why the Panthers were able to dismantle the Giants.
But it was not the biggest reason.
The story of the day belonged to the stout, dominant front seven of the Panthers defense.
The defense, led by the "Monsterz, Inc." line, accounted for a forced fumble, 2 interceptions, and 7 sacks, with defensive end Greg Hardy leading the way with three of them. They disrupted two-time Super Bowl winner and Giants quarterback Eli Manning all day, and he could not get in rhythm. With the pressure all over him, Manning passed for only 119 yards, and one interception.
Other bright stars were undrafted free agent rookies Melvin White and Robert Lester. Seeing their first action of the season, both were instrumental in causing turnovers. White left his man to jump another route for an interception. Later in the game he would force a fumble. That fumble would be recovered by Lester. Lester tacked on an interception to seal the game for the Panthers.
The Panthers started on fire in the first half, with the defense leading the way. Some first half stats to blow your mind:
- The Giants only had 18 yards of total offense in the first half, 1 yard passing, 17 yards rushing.
- Eight of the 11 Giants’ first offensive plays went for zero or negative yards.
The Giants’ offense helped out the Panthers in more ways than one. At the end of the first quarter, a collective groan amongst fans could be heard after a Giants punt touched the Panthers’ Richie Brockel. The Giants quickly recovered the ball and retained possession. However, it resulted in yet more Panthers defensive line pressure, the first career sack by defensive tackle Kawann Short, and another 3 and out drive.
Immediately after the Panthers took over that drive, Newton made a terrible throw and interception to Giants cornerback Aaron Ross. On the very first play, running back David Wilson took the handoff into the endzone in an apparent momentum shift. But a hold by offensive tackle Will Beatty and missed field goal by kicker Josh Brown averted the near threat.
As the Panthers go into their bye week, this team could easily be 3-0. Let's hope that can carry this momentum and take down the Cardinals in Arizona in Week 5.
Greg Hardy, 3 sacks, 8 tackles
Panthers Who Starred
Panthers Who Struggled
Byron Bell (hey, someone had to struggle)