New York Giants: 4 Reasons the D Held Up Against Cam Newton
Newton threw for his lowest percentage of 2012 at 53.3—a mark he's failed to exceed only three other times in his NFL career.
He threw three interceptions for the first time since Week 10 of last season, and broke his streak of seven consecutive games with a passing touchdown. His six rushing yards is a number lower than any total he accumulated in his rookie year.
Perry Fewell's Giants defense had a plan to take down the explosive Carolina shot-caller, and executed it flawlessly.
Let's take a look at how they took down Newton and the Cats.
Giants' Big Three Returning to Form
Through the New York Giants' first pair of games this season, their usually dependable defensive studs were unusually quiet.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck had combined for a total of one sack prior to the team's Week 3 matchup at Carolina. Pierre-Paul managed to total 12 tackles in those games, but Tuck and Umenyiora combined for just 10.
On Thursday, the three finally showed the fire they've displayed in years past.
Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora both were on the board in sacks, and Tuck recorded three tackles against Carolina.
Cam Newton was pressured all night long by Giants defenders, led by their usual suspects.
Blitzing Defensive Backs
Cam Newton has made a name for himself in the NFL with his speed, and the Giants knew just how to counter it.
Over the course of his career, Newton has mainly faced lineman and blitzing linebackers behind the line of scrimmage. He's been able to beat these defenders with pure speed. What Newton hasn't seen a lot of, however, is safeties and cornerbacks with similar speeds, pursuing him behind the line.
With defensive backs in his face all game long, the former Heisman trophy winner seemed out of sorts. Giants DBs failed to record a sack, but their constant pressure forced Newton into poor throws and gradually wore down the Panthers gunslinger.
A passer rating of 40.6 marked a new low in his 19-game career.
Cam Newton's First Game on Short Rest
After a Sunday afternoon game against the Saints in Week 2, Thursday's game versus New York came after a short week of practice, and for Cam Newton, it was the first such game in his career.
With the NFL expanding its Thursday night lineup of games into early in the season, many quarterbacks will be in the position Newton found himself in Thursday.
A short week of practice and watching film of New York's defensive strategies clearly affected Newton negatively last week.
Luckily for Newton and the Panthers, no more of their games will be played on Thursdays this season. With only one more Monday nighter left on their schedule, all but one week of the season will be filled with practice and preparation, to avoid a replication of the showing they put on against the defending champs.
Improved Coverage from Reserves
With Corey Webster missing part of the game with a broken hand, the Giants, again, had to rely on their third-and-fourth-stringers in the secondary.
The G-Men found themselves in a hole before the game even began, as backup-turned-starter Michael Coe was declared inactive with a bum hamstring.
Prince Amukamara was able to return from an ankle injury to make his season debut, which certainly helped Big Blue's depleted defensive backfield. Rookie Jayron Hosley showed improvement and picked off one pass, though it was later found that he tweaked a hamstring late in the game.
As if the injury situation couldn't get any worse for the Giants secondary, there was a scary incident halfway through the fourth quarter. Safety Antrel Rolle collided with a camera along the sideline and suffered a laceration to his left knee.
In his place, safety Will Hill logged two tackles and Stevie Brown intercepted a Cam Newton pass in the fourth quarter.
The combination of young defensive backs were able to lock down the Panthers receivers, and allowed no meaningful, substantial gains for deep threat Steve Smith.
A situation that was widely viewed as detrimental to the Giants defense has blossomed into an advantage for the defending champs. There has undoubtedly been growing pains from the young defenders early on, but developing depth is crucial in building a Super Bowl-winning squad, and the Giants are doing just that in 2012.
Follow me on Twitter for more Giants talk at @JSDorn6.
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