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Giant Takeaways: Giants Lose Heartbreaker in Carolina

All signs seemed to be pointing in the New York Giants direction. Yet, the team took a late detour, as they fell to the Carolina Panthers 33-31 at Bank of America Stadium.

The Giants looked to be really good at points on Sunday, but life is cruel at times. The fan base wanted a win, but as Mick Jagger famously said, “you can’t always get what you want.” The ending of the game was like letting the air out of a balloon, which came in the form of a Graham Gano 63-yard, game-winning field goal.

Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s heartbreaking loss.

Giants Offense Showed Heart

Remember last week when the Giants offense couldn’t do anything against the Saints defense. Well, against a tougher defense in Carolina, New York was marching up and down the field, especially late in the game.

Eli Manning, despite throwing two bad interceptions, looked rather good. He completed 22 of his 36 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, throwing a deep dime pass in the end zone to Odell Beckham Jr., who was sandwiched between two defenders, and the second on a screen pass to Saquon Barkley to take the lead.

Manning, who was hesitant to throw the ball deep against the Saints, was rather fearless. His two longest plays came on Russell Shepard’s 40-yard reception in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, and a 33 yard reception to Beckham.

Barkley continued to pave his way in rookie history on Sunday, as he became the third rookie in NFL history to record at least 100 yards from scrimmage in his first five games. The other two names? Adrian Peterson and Kareem Hunt. Not bad company to be apart of.

The biggest thing to takeaway from the Giants performance? The Giants scored over 30 points for the first time since 2016.

Beckham’s Comments Lit Fire Under Giants

Beckham created a whirlwind of news just a couple of days prior to the Carolina game. The wide receiver questioned the effort of the team in recent weeks. Beckham stood by the comments, saying he wanted to motivate the team. Linebacker Alec Ogletree did not fault him from making those statements.

Head coach Pat Shurmur was not a fan of the comments, who was livid at the post-game press conference. He appeared tired of talking about them, and directed any additional questions from the media to Beckham, saying he was, “done, finito.”

The team did look more aggressive on the field, which is not just the result of Beckham’s criticism. It is the product of the playcalling from Pat Shurmur. Perhaps the most innovative play we saw was Manning throwing a screen pass to Beckham, who in turn chucked it downfield to Barkley for a 57-yard score.

It still wasn’t enough to get the victory, but it was the best game they played in recent memory.

“Those” Officiating Calls

There were plenty of complaints about the officiating against New Orleans. But the calls made by referees in Carolina were a whole different beast.

The frustration began to grow on the Giants sideline after safety Landon Collins was called for hitting a defenseless receiver, after he, Janoris Jenkins, and Michael Thomas sandwiched receiver Devin Funchess. The thing was, Collins was going after the ball, not aiming for Funchess’ head. However, it gave the Panthers a first down, and was capped by touchdown.

While many thought the officiating couldn’t get more frustrating, Carolina’s final drive happened. The Panthers were facing third-and-one with less than a minute remaining in regulation. Running back Christian McCaffrey would run the ball up the middle, and appeared to be short of the first-down marker. However, the officials called it a first down, without even calling for a measurement. Newton would then spike the ball, and shortly afterwards, Gano’s long kick would give the Panthers the victory, and leave the Giants seething.

Collins was furious after the game, saying the penalty on him was a “game-changer” and that it was as if the Giants “were playing two teams.”

Those were the two focal points of criticism regarding the officiating, as the Giants were called for eight different penalties, equating to 62 yards. New York could use it as a point of motivation for the remainder of the season, because all-in-all, the team looked the best they’ve been all season.

Defense Picked Apart by Panthers

James Bettcher entered this week knowing he had his hands full. A dual-threat quarterback in Cam Netwon and a rushing attack lead by Christian McCaffrey.

The Giants defense had so much difficulty making tackles. Numerous times, whether Newton was throwing it to Curtis Samuel on his touchdown catch-and-run or rookie D.J. Moore, the Giants could not take them down. Particularly on Samuel’s touchdown, nearly half the defensive squad couldn’t bring him down.

Despite the fact that Curtis Riley and Janoris Jenkins each picked off Newton, Carolina’s offense proved to be too good. While Newton completed 21 passes on 35 attempts for 232 yards, the ground game was a difference maker. The Panthers’ rushing attack rushed for 118 yards on 31 carries, where McCaffrey made up for half over the yardage output (58).

The road doesn’t get any easier for the Giants defense, but may be the return of Olivier Vernon could spice things up.

What’s Next?

The Giants have to put the nose to the grindstone, as they face off against the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. While sitting at 1-4, the Giants have the opportunity to inch of the divisional standings, especially with the Eagles sitting at the top with just two wins on the year.

If New York can replicate their aggressiveness as they did down in Carolina, they could surprise some teams, and it could start against Philadelphia. But only time will tell, and that time is on “Thursday Night Football.”

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General Editor and New York Giants Lead Writer.
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