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Panthers obliterate Giants behind Newton, suffocating defense
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Cam Newton threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another, while his team's defense put forth a dominant effort of its own as the Carolina Panthers rolled to a 38-0 victory over the reeling New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium.
Newton finished with 223 yards and one interception while completing 15-of-27 passes and adding 45 yards on the ground. Brandon LaFell hauled in two of the quarterback's scoring strikes, with DeAngelo Williams contributing 120 rushing yards on 23 carries to Carolina's (1-2) first triumph of the season.
The Panthers, who were routed by New York at home by a 37-6 score during Week 3 of last season, outgained the still-winless Giants by a whopping 402-150 margin in total yards. Carolina tied a team record by sacking Eli Manning seven times, including three from end Greg Hardy, forced three turnovers and yielded just 10 first downs in an overwhelming performance.
"We did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage, obviously," said Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. "And the front four, those guys did awesome."
Manning finished 12-of-23 for 119 yards and was intercepted once for the Giants (0-3), who last dropped their opening three games of a season back in 1996.
"We just didn't play well offensively," said Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who was leading his team less than a week after the sudden death of his younger brother, John. "We didn't give ourselves anything to build on."
The Panthers sacked Manning four times on New York's initial three series and held the Giants to a paltry 18 total yards in taking a commanding 17-0 lead into halftime.
Newton nearly tripled that number by himself on Carolina's second possession of the game, gaining 40 yards on four rushes that included a drive-sustaining 14-yard scramble on 3rd-and-13. Mike Tolbert later capped the 12-play, 59-yard sequence with a 2-yard burst into the end zone on 4th-and-1 to put the Panthers ahead with 2:33 remaining in the first quarter.
The Giants nearly tied it early in the second period, as Aaron Ross intercepted Newton along the right sideline and returned it nine yards to the Carolina 16 before David Wilson broke free for a touchdown on the next play. The score was nullified by a holding penalty on tackle Will Beatty, however, and Manning was sacked again on the subsequent snap to push New York back further. Josh Brown ultimately pulled a 38-yard field goal try wide left to keep the score at 7-0.
"They have guys who can get to the quarterback and get some pressure, and obviously they did a good job," said Manning of the Panthers. "They won the physical battle today."
Carolina's Graham Gano did deliver on the ensuing drive, though, splitting the uprights on a 53-yard attempt for a 10-0 advantage just past the midway stage of the second quarter. Newton helped set up the kick with three completions, two of which went to Steve Smith, that each produced 13 yards or more.
After the Giants were forced to punt once more, Newton again got the Panthers into scoring range with time winding down in the opening half. On 3rd-and-12 from the New York 16, the strong-armed quarterback lofted a perfect throw to LaFell in the left corner of the end zone with 12 seconds left to further extend the margin.
Carolina continued to pour it on after the break. Williams ripped off a 27- yard run to near midfield on the third snap from scrimmage of the second half as the Panthers effortlessly moved 80 yards in six plays, capped by Newton's 20-yard delivery to LaFell that made it a 24-0 game 3:25 into the third quarter.
"Brandon LaFell stepped up, running unbelievable routes," said Newton. "When his number was called, he made plays."
Melvin White picked off Manning at the Giants' 29 shortly after LaFell's second score, and another sizeable run by Williams created a goal-to-go situation not long later. Newton did the honors this time, barreling through from three yards out to increase the lead to 31-0.
Newton put the finishing touches on the lopsided win with a 47-yard heave to Ted Ginn Jr., who burned Ross deep over the middle for the game's final touchdown with 1:30 expired in the fourth quarter.
The Giants mustered three total yards in the first quarter, the team's lowest output in an opening period since 1991 ... Carolina last registered seven sacks in a game during a 30-28 loss at Atlanta on Sept. 30 of last season ... New York fullback Henry Hynoski left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return ... Panthers rookie Robert Lester made his first career start at safety and recorded his first NFL interception by picking off New York backup Curtis Painter in the final minute ... The Giants had gone 6-1 against Carolina in the regular season under Coughlin coming in ... Ginn ended with 71 yards on three receptions.
09/22 20:34:39 ET