Maybe it was the dramatic comeback win last week, or maybe it's just something about the NFC South. Whatever it is, the New York Giants walked past the Carolina Panthers for a 36-7 win in primetime on Thursday night, looking no worse for wear playing on a short week.
The Giants struck quick, scoring their first touchdown of the game on their very first possession. Eli Manning hit tight end Martellus Bennett 14-yard touchdown on third down. Bennett got behind the coverage down the middle and into the end zone for his third touchdown in three games. He appears to be making good on his promise of a fresh start after leaving the Dallas Cowboys for their NFC East rivals.
New York added another 13 points in the first half, taking a 20-0 lead into the locker room at the half. Running back Andre Brown scored his first of two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter.
Carolina finally got on the board in the middle of the third quarter when Cam Newton jumped over the pile at the goal line for his second rushing touchdown of the season, and the 16th of his prodigious career.
The reigning Rookie of the Year looked anything but prodigious against the Giants. Newton threw three interceptions, the most in a single game for him since Week 11 against the Lions last season, when he threw four. Newton finished the game 16-for-30 with 242 yards, and only those picks to show for his passing effort. On the ground, Newton ran the ball six times for a grand total of six yards, despite some option looks from the Panthers early in the game.
Photo via Bob Donnan, US PRESSWIRE
Newton's three picks were part of a five-turnover night for the struggling Panthers.
Brown made his first NFL start a memorable one, working in place of an injured Ahmad Bradshaw and an all-but benched David Wilson. He finished the game with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. He now has a total of three touchdowns in two games and has earned an expanded role with the Giants even when Bradshaw returns.
Another less heralded member of the Giants' impressive depth chart contributed to the win with a huge game. Fourth-year wide receiver Ramses Barden had an epic game, finishing with nine catches and 138 yards. His previous best was a three-catch, 38-yard outing last year against the Saints. He had a total of nine catches all last season. Barden, a third-round pick in 2009, was filling in for an injured Hakeem Nicks.
Manning did not have the 500-yard performance he had last week, but the circumstances were a little different in this one. Working behind an offensive line that gave him all the time in the world, Manning finished the game in the fourth quarter with 27-for-35 line with 288 yards and a touchdown.
Game Ball: It has to go to the Cinderella story, Andre Brown. With the Giants line brushing aside a suspect Panthers defense, Brown made it look easy.
Photo via Jeremy Brevard, US PRESSWIRE
The going gets tougher for the defending champs next week when the travel to Philadelphia for a game against the red hot Eagles. Tom Coughlin's squad split the series with Philly last year.
Carolina drops to 1-2 on the season, disappointing fans and shocking prognosticators who predicted a big year for Newton. The Panthers are in Atlanta next week.