Brad Penner/USA TODAY

Carolina Panthers Lead 21-7 at Halftime Over the New York Giants

After a slow start, the Carolina Panthers jump out to a 21-7 lead over the New York Giants. Brandon Croce provides his notes from the first half of the Panthers' game.

  • To say this game between the Carolina Panthers and the NY Giants started out chippy would be an understatement. The main culprits would be Josh Norman and Odell Beckham Jr. who spent plenty of time after the whistle making their presence known. The refs tried to stop this early and talked with both head coaches and it certainly slowed down in the second half. In terms of the stat sheet, Norman is certainly winning the battle as Beckham Jr. was held to no catches in the first half. He did have a chance early though to make an impact as he beat Norman deep which was sure to be an easy touchdown but he dropped the pass. He was targeted only twice in the first half and I expect that number to drastically increase in the second half.
  • Entering this game, the offense had a huge question mark of what they would do at running back with Jonathan Stewart inactive with a foot injury. The team started out with Mike Tolbert as the starting running back on the first two drives and then Cameron Artis-Payne followed by Fozzy Whittaker. While Tolbert got the most carries (5), Artis-Payne was the most effective with 16 rushing yards on four carries. A majority of the yards on the ground though came from Cam Newton who had a 47 yard run and finished the half with 66 total rushing yards.
  • The Peanut Punch is back! This was the first game back for Charles Tillman since Week 10 and has an impact in the first quarter with the first turnover of the game when he forced a fumble on Giants' running back Rashad Jennings. There may not be a player in the history of the league who has done a better job at forcing fumbles and now has 44 career forced fumbles.
  • That turnover by Tillman was key as the Panthers' offense captialize with a touchdown pass from Newton to Greg Olsen on a bootleg pass on 3rd and 1. The Panthers' offense has feasted on opponent's mistakes and putting points on the board off turnovers and entering Week 15 they were first with 113 points off turnovers, according to Sporting Charts.
  • After the Olsen touchdown, Newton was able to lead the Panthers' offense down the field inside the final two minutes and connected with rookie Devin Funchess for his third touchdown pass of the game. He finished the half completing 12 of 21 passes for 157 passing yards and those three touchdowns. This is Newton's third straight game with at least three touchdown passes.

Twitter @BrandonCroce.

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