New York Giants: deangelo williams

We conclude this week's grim series of 2013 New York Giants recollection with a capper that was less a "moment" than it was a terrifying avalanche that buried a season.

No. 1 -- Sacked (and sacked, and sacked, and sacked, and sacked, and sacked) in Carolina

On the morning of Sept. 22, the 0-2 Giants arrived at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., for a game against the 0-2 Carolina Panthers. It was being billed as a "must-win" game for both teams, though maybe moreso for Carolina. There was talk that a loss could lead the Panthers to fire coach Ron Rivera as early as the next day. And while there was no such intrigue regarding Tom Coughlin, the Giants had been beaten up by the Cowboys and Broncos in their first two games and were hoping an old, familiar punching bag could help them get back on track.

Uh... not so much.

A Panthers' defense that turns out to have been one of the very best in the NFL sacked Eli Manning six times in the first 17 minutes of the game, setting a tone for a 38-0 Carolina whitewash that represents the worst loss of Coughlin's career with the Giants. This was the bottoming-out for an offensive line that would bear the bulk of the responsibility for the Giants' issues on offense all year, as the injuries David Baas and Chris Snee suffered in the game would force the team to try and fix its already significant pass-protection problems with unqualified backups. It was also a low point for the Giants' defense, which hadn't yet acquired Jon Beason from Carolina and allowed 120 rushing yards to DeAngelo Williams and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) to Cam Newton.

This was the game in which Hakeem Nicks was targeted only once, very late, and caught no passes, after which he got in a little bit of hot water for joking, "I can't throw it to myself." The Giants had 90 passing yards and 60 rushing yards for the game, turned the ball over three times and committed six penalties. Other than the shocking absence of a special-teams touchdown by the opponent (something that happened in every other game they played in September), this game showcased pretty much all of the problems that would doom the Giants' season.

That morning of Sept. 22, two 0-2 teams met on the field in Carolina. From that point forward, the Panthers went 12-2 and secured the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Giants would lose four more games before winning their first, and ended up 7-9 and out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. At kickoff that day, the two teams seemed to be in similar plights. But by the time the game ended, it was clear that the Giants were the team in much more trouble.

Rapid Reaction: Panthers 38, Giants 0

September, 22, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers:

What it means: Well, it means huge trouble from a statistical standpoint. The Giants are 0-3 for the first time since 1996. Since the current playoff format began in 1990, only three of the 115 teams that have started 0-3 prior to this year reached the playoffs. No one's done it since 1998. So the odds of this year's Giants playing in the postseason are less than good.

Stock watch: Pick someone, pretty much anywhere on the Giants' roster, and their stock is down. But a good place to focus is on the offensive line. Eli Manning was sacked six times in the first 17 minutes of the game Sunday. Left tackle Will Beatty was incredibly overmatched by Carolina's pass-rushers, and Beatty's linemates weren't much better. Carolina was in the backfield on every pass and run play the Giants called in the first half, and as a result of the relentless pressure, the Giants' offense was never able to get anything going, even during the part of the game in which the Panthers were struggling to score as well. By the time Cam Newton got going, the Giants had been manhandled too much to recover.

Don't let the defense off easy: The Giants' offense has been so erratic and mistake-riddled this year that it's provided some measure of cover for the Giants' defense. And it's easier on the defense to find positives. They are tackling well at the second and third levels, for instance. But the fundamental problem is the number of those tackles they find themselves having to make as a result of their failures up front. Mathias Kiwanuka's early sack was a sign that things might be about to improve, but as the clock ran down in the fourth quarter it was still holding up as the Giants' only sack of the day and their sixth in their last eight games. Meanwhile, Newton and DeAngelo Williams were doing basically whatever they wanted to do in the run game. The Giants aren't tough enough right now on either line.

What's next: Things don't get any easier. The Giants travel to Kansas City next week for a 1 p.m. ET game against the 3-0 Chiefs, who beat the Eagles on Thursday night and will have had nine days off prior to the game.