Panthers Hold Off Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Carolina built up a 10-point second-half lead and held on to beat the Giants, 24-21, in the preseason opener for both clubs.

New York's defense hardly looked sharp, but the offense was able to put together a couple nice drives.

Steve Spagnuolo's new defense closely resembled last season's unit on Carolina's first drive. The Panthers marched 81 yards in 13 plays en route to a 7-0 lead. Especially unimpressive on defense during the drive were Sam Madison, who was beaten by Steve Smith for a five-yard touchdown and also missed a tackle, Marcus Bell, who left glaring holes open in the middle, and Mathias Kiwanuka, who is obviously feeling his way at linebacker early on.

"Things didn't go the way we wanted it to," Antonio Pierce said. "Opening up the preseason by letting the other team score a touchdown on their first drive is not good. We've got a lot of work to do. We are still learning this new defense, but that's no excuse. We just need to go back and work hard so we can be better next week."

Left defensive end Osi Umenyiora was also displeased with the first-team's defensive effort.

"We didn't look very good even though this was our first preseason game," Umenyiora said. "We've got a lot of work to do. They got a couple of big runs on us, a couple of cutbacks on us and that's not good. We have to get a lot better."

Derrick Ward, who served as New York's top primary kickoff returner, took his second opportunity back 67 yards, setting up a seven-yard scoring connection between Manning and Jeremy Shockey.

"I was happy with the way we responded after the great kickoff return by Derrick Ward with Eli putting the ball in the end zone by hooking up with Shockey," Shaun O'Hara said. "It was a great start but we know we still have a lot to do and a lot to accomplish."

Ward then capped a nice Jared Lorenzen-engineered drive with a five-yard TD run to give New York a 14-10 lead. Ward finished with 29 yards on only five carries.

"A pretty good day at the office," Ward smiled.

But the Panthers responded with a late TD for a 17-14 halftime cushion.

In the second half, Carolina receiver Taye Biddle beat Kevin Dockery, who had a rough evening, in the slot and then outran Craig Dahl for an 85-yard TD early in the third quarter. Dahl also had a tough first outing, being penalized 15 yards for a hit on a defenseless receiver and being beaten in coverage on multiple occasions.

Lorenzen countered by lofting a perfect pass to Anthony Mix for a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Ryan Grant, who had 44 rushing yards on five carries, chipped in with a 20-yard run.

But New York could get no closer, and dropped its exhibition opener.

Notes

Eli Manning finished his evening by completing three-of-five passes for 27 yards and a TD…

Fullback Robert Douglas showed his versatility by forcing a fumble on special teams in opening quarter…

Will Demps, who was demoted to second-team, had a good second quarter, posting three tackles, including a 13-yard sack of David Carr.

"Will flashed against the run, made some play in the opponents' backfield," Tom Coughlin said…

Rookie LB Zak DeOssie flashed in for a fourth-quarter sack…

New York's reserve offensive line was atrocious, allowing three sacks and numerous other pressures against Lorenzen and Anthony Wright. The Matt Lentz at center experiment went badly awry, as Lentz failed on three different occasions to get the shotgun snap back to Wright…

Former Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington, who was involved in an offseason motorcycle accident, was on hand to see his former mates…

The following Giants didn't play in the preseason opener: WRs Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress; CBs Aaron Ross, E.J. Underwood and Travonti Johnson; DT Fred Robbins, LB Gerris Wilkinson, S Michael Stone, LS Ryan Kuehl and G Todd Londot.

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