The Giants carried over their 25-point fourth quarter performance against the Buccaneers into Week 3, and were firing on all cylinders against Carolina. The game featured a couple reserves stepping into pivotal roles in place of injured starters. Their production was key to the Giants’ success.
While the victory was a nearly flawless team effort, a few players really stood out against the Panthers. This article will highlight those individual efforts, and assign three game balls: one for offense, one for defense and one for special teams.
Wide receiver Ramses Barden barely edges out running back Andre Brown for this week’s offensive game ball.
Brown’s 113-yard rushing performance in place of Ahmad Bradshaw was certainly impressive, but a lot of his success had to do with much-improved blocking from his offensive line and Carolina’s poor run defense.
On the other hand, Barden displayed a remarkable individual effort in Week 3. Quarterback Eli Manning was looking Barden’s way all night and the 6’6” receiver came through in the clutch. He was the Giants’ leading receiver on Thursday with 138 yards on nine catches.
Starter Hakeem Nicks (foot) and third receiver Domenik Hixon (concussion) were both out with injuries, so the Giants desperately needed some unproven pass-catchers to step up. With Carolina double-teaming Victor Cruz, tight end Martellus Bennett came up big, but Barden came up huge.
Barden made the Panthers’ secondary look foolish, gashing them for 20+ yards on four out of his nine grabs. He showed an ability to get open that had been in hiding since he was drafted in 2009. His precise routes in combination with his large frame provided Manning a solid target all game.
The former Cal Poly standout’s reliable hands were essential for the offense to move the chains as well. Seven of Barden’s nine receptions went for a first down, which helped the Giants sustain long drives and control the time of possession. Manning and Barden only failed to connect on one pass attempt.
Both Barden and Brown’s performances against the Panthers complicates things moving forward, as New York will certainly aim to get all of their offensive threats as many touches as possible.
Linebacker Michael Boley was a difference-maker in the Giants’ Thursday night matchup with the Panthers, which is why he deserves the defensive game ball for Week 3.
Boley was a force in the middle of the field, racking up six total tackles (five solo) on the night. He played a pivotal part in the Giants' run defense, which held a potent Carolina rushing attack to only 60 yards.
It’s Boley’s versatility, though, that makes him such a valuable component of New York’s defense. Aside from his six tackles, Boley also added a half sack and an interception.
Boley’s half sack came in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game. Just before the play began, Boley backed off his coverage and showed blitz off the left side. He cut through Carolina’s offensive line untouched just as the ball was snapped. With a clear shot at quarterback Cam Newton, Boley and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul were able to close in on him and bring him down with ease.
Two plays later, Boley dropped into coverage on a third-and-long situation. Newton looked to his tight end, Greg Olsen, deep down the middle, but Boley stepped in front of the pass and went the other way with it. He was able to return the interception 17 yards before being brought down by a pair of Panthers offensive linemen.
Boley’s play in Week 3 exemplified his usefulness to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and his defense. His half sack against the Panthers may have been his first of the season, but the interception was his third in as many games.
Holding the Panthers’ offense to seven points certainly required a full team effort on defense, but as the Giants’ defensive signal-caller, Boley deserves most of the credit for the stifling performance.
Kicker Lawrence Tynes accounted for half of the Giants’ 36 points in Week 3. Tynes’ leg played a huge part in the Giants’ victory over the Buccaneers the week before, and he continued his hot streak against the Panthers on Thursday.
Since joining the squad in 2007, Tynes’ value to the team has steadily risen. After kicking the Giants to the Super Bowl for the second time last January, Tynes came into the 2012 season more confident than ever.
That confidence has paid off so far this season. Heading into the Panthers game, Tynes had hit a perfect five-of-five field goal attempts, including four key kicks to help lead the Giants back from a second half 14-point deficit.
Tynes doubled his production in Week 3, hitting all five of his field goal attempts. The stellar performance puts his season totals at a flawless 10/10 on field goals and 8/8 on extra points.
The impressive part about Tynes’ kicking against the Panthers was his ability to split the uprights from anywhere on the field. He nailed 49- (season long) and 47-yarders with room to spare. He also hit kicks from 36, 30 and 27 yards out with impeccable accuracy.
The Giants have struggled in the red zone so far this season, which makes Tynes’ sure-shot leg that much more valuable to the New York offense. Through three games, he’s already kicked more than half of his season total from a year ago (19), and that number could rapidly increase as the season progresses.