FB Jim Finn recovered the ball, but Eli Manning's fumble wasn't forced as he attempted to throw a pass on a second-and-13 play from the Giants' 8 midway through the third quarter. Manning sold play-action perfectly and found wide-open WR David Tyree for a 3-yard touchdown that helped put the Giants in front 27-10 with 6:59 left in the third quarter. Bottom Line: Manning threw three touchdowns and wasn't intercepted.
All five of Tiki Barber's first-down carries accounted for at least 11 yards, while three of those attempts went for 18 or more. Barber also picked up blitzing FS Mike Minter, allowing Manning the extra split second he needed to complete a 45-yard pass to WR Plaxico Burress late in the first quarter. Brandon Jacobs didn't record a single yard on three of his first four carries, all short-yardage situations. He allowed SS Shaun Williams to strip him on a second-and-goal play from Carolina's 1 late in the second quarter, too. Bottom Line: Barber was as good as Jacobs was bad.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
TE Jeremy Shockey shook loose from LDE Al Wallace to catch a 2-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone, a score that helped put the Giants in front 17-10 just before halftime. Seven plays earlier, Shockey sealed off LDE Julius Peppers at the line of scrimmage, creating a huge hole for Barber's 18-yard run. Moving backward, WR Plaxico Burress showed great concentration in shedding hand-to-hand contact by LCB Richard Marshall and catching a 28-yard touchdown that helped put the Giants ahead 10-0 early in the second quarter. Bottom Line: He didn't record staggering stats, but Shockey played very well.
Pulling RG Chris Snee blasted MLB Chris Draft at the line of scrimmage, enabling Barber to run through a wide-open left side for a 20-yard gain early in the third quarter. The Giants went up 20-10 on a 29-yard Jay Feely FG five plays later. RT Kareem McKenzie kept Peppers from pressuring Manning, much less sacking him, before a neck injury prohibited him from playing in the second half. David Diehl moved to RT thereafter and also kept Peppers away from Manning. Bottom Line: Barber had running room and Manning wasn't legitimately sacked.
LDT William Joseph slipped the block of RG Evan Mathis, turned back toward the pocket and dropped QB Chris Weinke for a 5-yard sack on the last play of the third quarter. RDE Osi Umeyiora showed tremendous speed in blowing by LT Jordan Gross to drop RB DeShaun Foster for a 3-yard loss early in the second quarter. Bottom Line: Umenyiora returned to his usual high level before suffering another injury.
Backup WLB Gerris Wilkinson used his left arm to distract WR Keyshawn Johnson, preventing what would've been a 22-yard reception late in the second quarter. Bottom Line: MLB Antonio Pierce was a run-stuffer (11 tackles).
SS Gibril Wilson showed concentration by intercepting a pass Steve Smith mishandled. Wilson brought back the pick 25 yards, to Carolina's 14, with 9:15 left in the third quarter to help set up another touchdown. FS Will Demps dropped a sure interception at midfield midway through the second quarter. LCB Kevin Dockery fell for WR Steve Smith's outside move, allowing Smith to go inside and then outside for a 21-yard catch near Carolina's sideline early in the second quarter. Dockery didn't get his right hand up in time on the next play, either, which permitted WR Drew Carter to catch a well-thrown Weinke pass over his shoulder for a 36-yard touchdown that helped bring Carolina within three points (10-7). Bottom Line: Smith and Johnson didn't do much damage.
PR Chad Morton managed a season-high 22-yard return early in the third quarter, but wasn't aware of pursuing LOLB Thomas Davis and was stripped. The ball went out of bounds at Carolina's 40, though, and the Giants maintained possession. P Jeff Feagles dropped six of his nine punts inside Carolina's 20-yard line. And four of Jay Feely's six kickoffs reached the Panthers' end zone, despite his foot injury. Bottom Line: Other than the usual kick return problems, these units were good.
Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator John Hufnagel established the run early, as Barber ran 13 times for 82 yards in the first half. They incorporated Shockey in the offense early as well (four first-half catches). And the Giants miraculously committed just two penalties in the entire game. Bottom Line: Coughlin and his team showed more poise than they had in a month.
Xs & Os: A review of the Giants by Position
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