The Giants came in to Carolina needing a win to prevent their season from falling into the abyss -- and to deflect attention away from Odell Beckham Jr.'s comments about Eli Manning.
After a rough and sloppy first quarter, Big Blue stabilized things late in the second quarter as Beckham launched a shocking 57-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley, the defense firmed up, and Aldrick Rosas nailed a 53-yard field goal as they cut the deficit to 20-13 entering the half.
The Giants stalled in the red zone midway through the third quarter, and settled for a field goal as they crept within 20-16.
After an atrocious three-penalty sequence for the Giants with just over four minutes left in the third quarter turned what would've been a Panthers punt into the Panthers driving deep in Giants territory, Curtis Riley intercepted Cam Newton and the Giants were driving deep in Panthers territory before Manning threw a pick of his own -- a careless one off his back foot as he tried to hit Beckham.
A few minutes later -- with the Giants about to get the ball back after what should have been a third-down stop -- Landon Collins was called for an unnecessary roughness "penalty,"-- which the officials said was "contact on a defenseless player" as Collins inadvertently hit Devin Funchess in the helmet while diving to make a play on the the ball during an incomplete pass as Funchess also dove. The call was atrocious, and the Panthers were in the end zone a few plays later as they extended their lead to 27-16.
Manning then tossed his second pick of the game with just over 10 minutes to go in the game. But soon after, Janoris Jenkins picked Newton to set the Giants up deep in Panthers territory. A few plays later, Manning hit Beckham for a 33-yard touchdown before the two-point conversion to Rhett Ellison cut the lead to 27-24.
With just over three minutes left, the Panthers converted on 4th-and-1 near midfield, but the Giants held them to a field goal to get the ball back trailing 30-24 witih 2:16 remaining. The Giants quickly marched down the field, with Barkley reeling in a short pass from Manning and going airborne into the end zone as the Giants went up, 31-30, with 1:08 remaining.
The Giants held the Panthers pretty much in check on the final drive, but Graham Gano hit a 63-yard field goal to win the game. Because of course he did.
Here are the takeaways...
- The good Beckham: About an hour after an interview aired where he said he didn't know if Eli Manning was an issue for the Giants, Beckham came out of the gate on fire, reeling in a 13-yard catch, returning a punt for 15 yards, and hauling in a second 13-yard catch early in the first quarter as the Giants took a 3-0 lead. Then there was the 57-yard pass to Barkley for a touchdown. Then there was the 33-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter -- his first of the season. Overall, Beckham finished with eight catches for 131 yards and his first touchdown of the season.
- The bad Beckham: Dropped a would-be first down pass on fourth down late in the first quarter. Then, while back to return a punt at the start of the second quarter, he inexplicably instead tried to block the Panthers' gunner. The ball hit Beckham's foot, Janoris Jenkins failed to scoop it up, and Eli Apple failed to fall on it in the end zone as the Panthers recovered for a touchdown and 14-3 lead.
- Eli Manning took more shots downfield than he had been taking earlier this season, connecting with Sterling Shepard for a 28-yarder, and hitting Beckham for his 33-yard touchdown. Overall, he went 22-for-36 for 326 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
- The running game was atrocious in the first quarter -- with plays getting blown up in the backfield multiple times -- as Saquon Barkley rushed five times for -4 yards. Things changed after that, with Barkley ripping off a 20-yard run in the middle of the second quarter before hauling in the 57-yard touchdown pass from Beckham on the same drive. Barkley added a dazzling 30-yard run early in the third quarter and his touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter. Overall, he rushed for 48 yards on 15 carries, and had four receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with 129 yards from scrimmage, giving him 100+ yards from scrimmage in each of his first five career games -- joining Kareem Hunt and Adrian Peterson as the only players to ever do so.
- Beckham called for "heart" and "passion," and the Giants delivered, showing a sense of urgency after the mess that was the first quarter. A highlight was Barkley jawing with Julius Peppers. Another one was Sterling Shepard losing his mind on the bench in the third quarter before Beckham calmed him down. Pat Shurmur then lost his mind after the brutal penalty on Collins that helped swing the game in Carolina's favor.
- Cam Newton couldn't have been more comfortable with the amount of time he had to chill in the pocket while waiting for plays to develop. He had all day to wait for receivers to get open, and rolled out and ran it himself when he didn't like what he saw. But he didn't do a whole lot with all the time he had. Overall, he went 21-for-35 for 237 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.