Panthers Slip Up in New York, 31-18

Matt Moore was responsible for four of Carolina's five turnovers as the Panthers dropped their season-opener, 31-18, to the New York Giants. John Fox's squad led at intermission but was unable to overcome a sloppy second half.

The spotlight shined bright on Matt Moore, who was the first quarterback other than Jake Delhomme to start for the Panthers on opening day since 2003. Ironically, his response to the new situation was very Delhomme-esque.

Moore completed 14 of 33 passes (42 percent) for 182 yards, one TD and three INTs. He was also sacked four times, coughing up the ball on one of those hits. He was replaced late in the game by Jimmy Clausen (0 for 2), a move many fans will begin clamoring for after Moore's sloppy performance.

This game was far different than when these teams met in Week 16 last season. In that contest -- a 41-9 Panthers victory -- Jonathan Stewart ran for 206 yards. Stewart was back on the field Sunday after missing all of the preseason following ankle surgery, yet his return performance consisted of just five carries for 12 yards.

In all, the Panthers finished with less than 90 net yards rushing on 24 attempts.

QB Matt Moore
Jim McIsaac/Getty
While Stewart's return offered very little impact, Steve Smith's comeback provided the Panthers with all the offensive spark they could muster. Smith caught five passes for 75 yards, including a 19-yard TD just before halftime to give the Panthers a 16-14 edge going into intermission.

Unfortunately, the Panthers left their momentum in the visiting locker room at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Carolina's offense could not muster a point in the second half, with the team's only addition to the scoreboard coming via a safety when Greg Hardy blocked a punt out of the back of the end zone with under four minutes left.

In fact, Giants rookie punter Matt Dodge did the Panthers a few favors. He had a pair of line-drive efforts that PR Captain Munnerlyn returned for 28 and 10 yards, respectively. Special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers was pleased to see such proficiency from this punt-return team after that unit struggled in the preseason, but it was one of the few bright spots in an overall sloppy performance.

The Panthers defense did some nice things, including forcing four turnovers of its own. Charles Godfrey led the way with two interceptions, although he gave up more big plays than he authored. James Anderson also contributed with his first career interception, but it was not enough to prevent Ron Meeks' unit from wearing down as the game progressed.

The Giants held nearly a 10-minute edge in time of possession, an advantage too decisive for the Panthers to overcome.

The Panthers will take another crack at their first win of the season next Sunday during their home opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs enter the contest with a 1-0 mark after topping the Cleveland Browns, 17-14.

Cat Quicks

--Long snapper J.J. Jansen botched a snap on a punt attempt, accounting for one of Carolina's five turnovers on the day.

--Hardy, in addition to his blocked punt, stripped Ahmad Bradshaw of the ball late in the game. Sherrod Martin recovered for the Panthers' fourth takeaway.

--John Kasay connected on all three field-goal attempts, including efforts from 52 and 43 yards.

--Mike Goodson had kickoff returns of 45 and 29 yards. He had five returns in all, averaging 23 yards per attempt.

--The Panthers picked up just two first downs rushing.

What are Panthers fans saying about Sunday's game? See in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and also a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.

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