"I told them I was very proud of them," Panthers head coach John Fox said about his team's performance today. "We have a chance to move forward now. I thought the performances speak for themselves in all three phases. To go on the road and do that is a good start for this playoff season."
The Panthers controlled the clock for nearly 43 of 60 possible minutes, and never gave the Giants offense a chance.
"We needed to keep the ball away from their offense, which was dominant in the regular season," said Fox. "They were ranked fourth and able to do it both running and passing. We knew it was going to be a huge challenge for our defense, and the best defense in the world is an offense that controls the ball."
The Panthers defense limited Pro Bowl RB Tiki Barber to just 41 yards rushing on 13 attempts, one of their better defensive performances of the season.
"It was a great game plan by our defensive staff," said Fox. "We knew that he (Barber) was going to be featured in both the running game and the passing game, and it was a situation where the guys executed very well today."
Their success defensively wasn't just the corralling of Barber. The Panthers forced Giants QB Eli Manning into 3 interceptions and a fumble. The defense also limited him to just 113 yards on 10 completions, which resulted in a QB rating of 35.0 for the day. In fact, the Giants' top receiver, Plaxico Burress, was held without a catch.
Panthers safety Marlon McCree was the beneficiary of two of Manning's interceptions.
"I had seen that play all week in practice," McCree said of the play on which he nabbed his second interception. "I knew they were running that route so I kind of jumped in front of it. I was just trying to get free. If I had gotten around that corner, it was going to be a house call. I needed one more block. Those guys didn't do a good job blocking for me (laughs). If they give me a hard time about not running, I'll give them a hard time about not blocking. But seriously, I thank God and I'm having a lot of fun."
Offensively, the Panthers ran the ball for a total of 226 yards (223 if you subtract three yards for Weinke's kneels at the end of the game). Starting RB DeShaun Foster had another solid game rushing the ball, totaling 151 yards on 27 attempts, for a 5.6 yards per carry average. Foster's running was a huge reason why the Panthers controlled the clock for as long as they did.
"We wanted to establish the run early and keep their offense off the field," said Foster after the game. "It worked out for us."
Foster wasn't the only back that had a good day for the Panthers. RB Nick Goings also contributed 63 yards on 12 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The Panthers didn't miss a beat when Foster, who was playing with a bad case of turf-toe and a banged-up shoulder, came out of the game for a breather.
"Everyone was playing well for us," said Foster. "The offensive line was opening up holes for us. The defense was coming up with turnover after turnover for us. We just have to keep grinding and get ready for next week."
"Any time you're able to run the ball the way we did, it's a group effort," said Fox. "Our backs ran hard. The tight ends, offensive linemen and fullbacks blocked well. Our receivers blocked well. It's a team effort, and we ran the ball well as a football team today."
But as great as today's win was for the cats from Carolina, they face an extremely tough challenge next week in Chicago.
"They're a great football team," Fox said of the Bears. "They whooped up on us pretty good in the regular season. That place is not an easy place to play. It's a huge challenge for our team."
If today is any indication, the Panthers will be ready.
Panthers Dominate Giants
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