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The Giants met Cam Newton for the first time on Thursday night and they're probably asking themselves what all the hype was about.
Newton and the Panthers were shut out in the first half en route to an easy 36-7 Giants win that saw the team hitting their marks in all phases of the game. Given the injury issues facing the Giants did you expect anything else?
The Giants are a team that tends to come up with their best performances in moments when you least expect them and that was certainly the narrative coming into Thursday night. They were missing Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw and David Diehl on offense and their defense had to deal with Newton.
Newton made a few plays here and there, but the Giants defense never let him hit anything too big or damaging in a very disciplined performance across the defense. They also picked him off three times, pressured him on other passes and shut down the running game before it got started.
Not too shabby, especially when you realize that the defense wasn't as impressive as the offense. Three missing starters added up to zero negative impact on its performance.
Understudys Ramses Barden and Andre Brown ate up the Panthers defense from the opening drive, the first of four straight possessions in the first half that ended with points on the board. It was a surgical bit of business that left the home team carved up like the practice cadaver in a medical school classroom.
Barden caught nine passes (the same as he caught last season) for 138 yards on plays that took advantage of a defense that just couldn't adjust to a play that was beating them over and over. The Giants had it happen to them in the opener with Kevin Ogletree and they did the exact same thing to the Panthers with Barden on Thursday night.
He's not Nicks, but he's going to have a role in this offense going forward. It's been a long wait to see something big out of Barden, but he gets points for picking the right moment.
Brown was just as good, ripping off big runs over and over again in a way that we haven't seen from the Giants in a long time. He finished with 113 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns to stake a claim to playing time with or without Bradshaw in the lineup.
At some point, though, you have to wonder how much any of the supporting pieces ultimately mean to the Giants offense. After all, the names seem to keep changing other than the one at quarterback.
Manning got away with a couple of bad throws, but you only remember them because all of the other throws were pretty much right on the money. It wasn't as eye-popping as the 510 yards in last week's game, but it was ruthlessly efficient work by a quarterback who knew that the defense didn't have an answer for him.
There wasn't a moment on Thursday night when you saw the Giants sweat on offense. Everything clicked, the Panthers couldn't make a play and it looked more or less effortless from the first possession of the game.
And a big share of the praise for that goes to the offensive line. They won battles all night in both phases and played like a unit that had been together for years instead of one formed days ago when Diehl went down.
It was as good a performance as we've seen from the line in some time, one that makes you wonder if this shouldn't be the line every week of the season. Conclusions on that front will require more evidence, but the quintet put together a gem on Thursday.
So did just about everyone else when you think about it. The fourth quarter comeback kings made life easy on themselves for a change.