If Dandy Don Meredith was still with us, he'd definitely be warming up his vocals, because the Giants’ season is now on the brink of extinction.
It wasn’t necessarily artistic for the Carolina Panthers (14-0), but they found a way to hold off Big Blue, en route to a thrilling 38-35 win, to extend their perfect season.
The Giants were down 35-7 in the second half, but somehow managed to tie it late in the fourth quarter on the strength of multiple Carolina three-and-outs, a blocked field goal, and big plays by Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Ultimately, Carolina showed true championship mettle as Cam Newton found a way to drive a stake into the Giants’ hearts, when Graham Gano nailed a walk-off 43-yard field goal.
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Newton registered 25-of-45 for 340 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions (including 100 rushing yards), while showing an impressive gritty side that overshadowed his normally flashy persona, as he fought through a leg malady, three sacks, and 10 knockdowns to lead Carolina into field goal range.
New York (6-8) now sees its season on the edge of being over, as they dug itself too big a hole with the 28-point deficit – not to mention the Washington Redskins’ win earlier over the Buffalo Bills. It’ll take nearly a perfect storm for Big Blue to win the NFC East and avoid missing the playoffs for the fourth-straight season.
Metro takes a look back at what happened, as the loss has assuredly crippled the Giants’ postseason hopes.
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What we saw:
Batman vs. The Joker
This tilt was hyped as the matchup of the season, as Beckham and cornerback Josh Norman was billed as a battle of heavyweights. Initially, it was reminiscent of a 1980’s Mike Tyson fight, as the latter manhandled the former. Beckham, who made waves with his Joker cleats last week in Miami, was neutralized by the self-proclaimed Batman for a majority of the game, as Norman held him in check with six catches for 76 yards, and a touchdown. Beckham was never himself from the start, as he surprisingly dropped a wide-open touchdown that would’ve been a 52-yard score early in the opening quarter. He was also flagged for multiple 15-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct and personal fouls – all baited by Norman. It wasn’t his finest hour for the most part – he didn’t notch his first reception until the 5:20 mark of the third quarter -- but he made up for it when he burned Norman for a 15-yard touchdown on 4th-and-five to tie it at 35-35 with 1:46 remaining. It could’ve been a dream ending for Beckham had Big Blue found a way to get the win, but in the end his effort was all for naught.
Running game revived
Big Blue entered the game with one of the worst rushing attacks all game. And while they still hold that distinction, they at least put forth a very respectable ground game, as Rashad Jennings recorded the first Giant 100-yard rushing day with a game-high 107 yards. Jennings’s effort was impressive considering the Panthers are stout against the run. His game-high 16 carries was a tone-setter for the Giants, as they methodically chipped away at the deficit and forced Newton and Co. to helplessly stay on the sidelines. Big Blue can only hope this was the impetus to kick start the usually sedated ground game, as they enter next week in an absolute must-win contest.
Battle of the Elite
Newton and Manning engaged in an old-fashioned shootout, as every bit of those yards and touchdowns were needed by both. Newton ultimately outdueled his fellow No. 1 overall pick – he registered his third game with at least five touchdowns -- but Manning was just as lethal in shredding Carolina’s famed secondary, as he went 29-of-46 for 245 yards, four touchdowns, and on interception. The Giants are going to need even more from Manning, if that’s even possible, as their season hangs on by a thread. But at the very least, the Giants’ demise can’t be pinpointed at No. 10.
Big Blue notes:
- Jason Pierre-Paul finally got his first sack of the season late in the first half.
- Newton's 47-yard run was the longest by a quarterback against the Giants since the 1970 merger.