New York Giants: rapid reaction

Rapid Reaction: Giants 18, Steelers 13

August, 10, 2013

PITTSBURGH –- Eli Manning and Victor Cruz showed they are still very much on the same page, and rookie defensive end Damontre Moore looked impressive in the Giants' 18-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday in their preseason opener.

What it means: The Giants have some work to do, but there are reasons to believe they can be explosive on offense. Manning and Cruz looked like they were in midseason form.

It's clear the Giants have a variety of personnel options on defense. The run defense, however, had difficulty slowing down Pittsburgh's ground game in the first half.

The Salsa is back: Cruz missed valuable offseason training time with Manning due to the Pro Bowl receiver's contract negotiations. But Cruz showed why the Giants gave him $45.879 million over six years. Cruz burned the Steelers' secondary for a 57-yard touchdown catch from Manning near the end of the first quarter, which led to his first salsa dance of the year.

"It's great to be on the same page with your quarterback," Cruz said. "Eli and I work hard on that. When things are clicking, you really get the results you want."

DaMonster: Moore lived up to his college nickname of "DaMonster" in his preseason debut. After looking impressive in camp, the team’s third-round pick blocked a punt and had three tackles, a couple of pressures and one quarterback hit all in the first half. Moore disrupted a couple of short passes and looked incredibly active.

Moore's blocked punt with 11:27 to go in the first quarter was recovered by Louis Murphy and set the Giants up with first-and-goal at the Pittsburgh 5-yard line. The Giants' offense, though, failed to gain a yard and settled for a field goal.

Moore has been competing with Adrian Tracy to be the fourth defensive end once Jason Pierre-Paul returns from back surgery. If Moore keeps this up, he'll see snaps in the defensive end rotation behind JPP, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Stop the run: The Giants made a concerted effort in the offseason to bolster their run defense. But the Steelers racked up 81 yards on 17 carries in the first half, including 36 yards on a 13-play drive in the first quarter. The Steelers had success running the ball without their prized rookie Le'Veon Bell, who did not play due to a knee injury.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell shuffled in many of his tackles and ends. Cullen Jenkins started at defensive end as the Giants opened with Linval Joseph and Shaun Rogers inside. Second-round pick Johnathan Hankins and Mike Patterson also saw a lot of first-half snaps.

The Giants also took a long look at starting linebackers Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers while shuffling in Jacquian Williams a bit in the first half.

Injuries: Backup wide receiver Kris Adams suffered a fractured lower leg in the third quarter.

Tuck (back), wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (groin), right guard Chris Snee (hip), cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee), tackle Justin Pugh (concussion), tackle James Brewer (concussion), safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and running back Ryan Torain (concussion) did not play.

What's next: The Giants won't play again until Aug. 18 at home against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Hopefully Ahmad Bradshaw will be active and make a homecoming.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 42, Eagles 7

December, 30, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants vowed to show pride and they did just that, finally snapping out of their funk and crushing the lifeless Eagles 42-7 in their regular season finale.

What it means: The Giants took care of their own business by destroying the Eagles, but they were eliminated from playoff contention by virtue of Chicago’s victory over the Lions.

The Giants needed a win over Philadelphia and losses by Dallas, Chicago and Minnesota to get into the playoffs.

So their title defense ends with a 9-7 record. Despite finishing with a blowout victory, the Giants will go into the offseason wondering how they let the NFC East slip out of their hands. After starting off 6-2, the Giants closed the second half going just 3-5 to miss the playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons.

Now they head into an offseason which certainly could bring change to the roster with some familiar faces not returning.

ELIte explosion: After managing just 14 points in the previous two games, the Giants exploded for 35 points in the first half against a woeful Philadelphia team.

Eli Manning matched his career-high of four touchdowns in a game but did so in the first half. He later set his career-high with a fifth touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Looking as sharp as he has all season, Manning connected on 11-of-16 passes for 196 yards in the first half. Two of his touchdowns went to rookie Rueben Randle, another went to rookie running back David Wilson and the fourth was to Victor Cruz.

The touchdown pass to Cruz, who surpassed his total of 9 touchdowns last year, was as sharp a touchdown pass as Manning has thrown all season, even if Cruz was wide open.

Rookie surprise: The Giants’ rout got started on the hands and legs of their first two draft picks -- Randle and Wilson.

With the hobbled Hakeem Nicks watching and cheering on the sideline, Randle took advantage of his opportunity with a breakout day. He caught a three-yard touchdown pass and then added a 38-yard touchdown grab over Nnamdi Asomugha down the left sideline to put the Giants up 14-0 with 6:24 left in the first quarter.

Wilson started the game and scored on a 15-yard catch from Manning. Ahmad Bradshaw, who has been playing with a sprained knee, spelled Wilson and looked terrific, scoring a touchdown of his own and rushing for 67 yards on his seven first-half carries. Bradshaw reached 1,000 yards on the season in the second half.

Return of Stevie Wonder: The Eagles surprised the Giants with a successful onside kick to start the game. But Stevie Brown intercepted Michael Vick on the opening drive and returned it 48 yards to the Eagles’ 26 to set up Manning’s first touchdown pass to Randle.

Brown, the biggest surprise of the season for the Giants, has 8 interceptions. The Giants are 6-0 when he has had at least one pick.

What’s next: An offseason of uncertainty. The Giants finish 9-7 for second straight year but this time no playoffs. Now GM Jerry Reese will have to find a way to re-tool a team that won it all a year ago but couldn’t win enough to make the playoffs.

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 33, Giants 14

December, 23, 2012

BALTIMORE –- Supposedly playing for their playoff lives, the New York Giants showed very little life for the second straight week as the defending champs were blown out by the Baltimore Ravens, 33-14.

What it means: With the Dallas Cowboys losing to the New Orleans Saints, the Giants are somehow still alive for a wild-card spot due to their overall and conference record. But they’ll need help -- and a lot of it -- to get in. The Giants' playoff fate is tied to several teams, including Washington, Dallas, Chicago and Minnesota (check out ESPN's playoff machine).

First things first, though, New York has to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, and that is no guarantee the way the Giants have been playing. They have been crushed in two straight games and look like a shell of their championship selves.

In fact, they look like they are just going through the motions of playing the season out as they continue to fade down the stretch. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

Defenseless Giants: Playing without Justin Tuck and Kenny Phillips, the Giants' defense struggled badly. It looked a lot like last week when the Giants offered little resistance. There were missed tackles, big plays given up and little pressure on the quarterback.

Like Matt Ryan a week ago, Joe Flacco looked about as comfortable in the pocket as he would have been on his couch at home. Ray Rice burned Michael Boley for a touchdown reception while Stevie Brown and Will Hill missed tackles to put the Ravens up 24-7 toward the end of the first half.

Truly offensive performance: The Giants offense struggled again for the second straight game. After scoring 52 points against the Saints two weeks ago, the Giants have mustered only 14 points since.

Eli Manning was under pressure much of the first half and the Giants couldn’t seem to get anything going. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz have been taken out of the mix by defenses and the running game isn’t doing much of anything.

There’s just no spark on offense right now.

Confounding Corey: Corey Webster's difficult season continued as Flacco and the Ravens went after the Giants corner early and often. Webster gave up the first touchdown of the game to Torrey Smith. Smith later beat Webster on a 43-yard pass play that helped set up a Flacco 1-yard quarterback sneak to put the Ravens up 14-0.

Webster had difficulty locating the ball or had bad positioning as well. He nearly gave up another touchdown in the second quarter but Jacoby Jones' 9-yard catch in the end zone was overturned.

Giant injuries: Tuck (shoulder) and Phillips (knee) did not play. Defensive tackles Marvin Austin and Chris Canty suffered knee injuries during the game as well.

What’s next: The Giants finish the season at home next Sunday against the Eagles, who could put them out of their misery and end their playoff chances.

Rapid Reaction: Falcons 34, Giants 0

December, 16, 2012

ATLANTA –- The NFC wild-card playoff rematch between the Giants and Falcons was a complete mismatch as Atlanta destroyed the defending champs 34-0.

What it means: The Giants continued their maddeningly inconsistent ways by following up their big win over the Saints with an embarrassing loss at Atlanta.

The defense had no answers for the Falcons' offense, got little pressure on Matt Ryan and couldn't cover Julio Jones. Eli Manning threw two picks in the first half, David Wilson couldn't get going and the Giants were stopped cold on fourth-and-short three times.

The NFC East is now officially up for grabs.

Ugly start: Manning threw two interceptions in the first half, one on the second offensive play of the game when Asante Samuel picked him off at the Giants' 22 and returned it 6 yards to set up a Michael Turner touchdown run.

On the Giants' next drive, Lawrence Tynes missed a 30-yarder and the Falcons made them pay again. Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez on a touchdown pass to push the Falcons up 14-0.

In the second quarter, Tom Coughlin went for it on fourth-and-1 twice and was denied both times. At the Falcons' 32, Wilson ran to his left side only to be stuffed. Then with less than two minutes left, the Giants went for it again at the Falcons' 11, only to see Manning's pass to Victor Cruz get broken up.

The Falcons were able to go into the half with a 17-0 lead.

The Hokie rookie I: Jayron Hosley started at corner for the injured Prince Amukamara and had a tough day. He bit on a Ryan pump fake that led to a 37-yard pass to Harry Douglas. Hosley pulled up lame and injured his ankle on that play but returned.

He had a nice breakup on a deep pass to Roddy White but later gave up a 40-yard touchdown to Jones, who ran right by him to put the Falcons up 24-0 with 11:31 to go in the third quarter.

Jones beat Corey Webster on his second touchdown, in the fourth quarter.

The Hokie rookie II: Wilson started for Ahmad Bradshaw (knee) and ran as hard as he could, but there wasn't a lot of running room.

Wilson also didn't get a huge workload because the game slipped out of the Giants' hands. On the second play of the game, Wilson was practically flattened by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon while blocking on the play in which Manning threw a pick.

Backup Kregg Lumpkin saw a good amount of action, being used on several draw plays.

Wilson remained the kickoff returner but couldn't do much on kickoffs, either. Atlanta made sure to keep the explosive Wilson in check.

Wilson finished with 55 yards on 12 carries. Lumpkin rushed eight times for 42 yards.

Paying tribute: The Giants wanted to do what they could to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Coughlin spoke to his team about the tragedy during his Saturday night meeting, and the players had "SHES" on their helmets. Coughlin had it written on his hat, as well.

Cruz paid tribute to 6-year-old Jack Pinto. After learning that Pinto was a Cruz fan, the receiver spoke to Pinto's parents. They told him that they had been contemplating burying their son in a Cruz No. 80 jersey. Cruz had the words "Jack Pinto 'My Hero'" written on his cleats and "Jack Pinto 'This One is 4 U'" on his gloves.

What's next: The Giants travel to Baltimore for a slugfest with the Ravens.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 52, Saints 27

December, 9, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- With the Redskins and Cowboys breathing down their necks, the New York Giants held on to their division lead by crushing the Saints 52-27.

What it means: The Redskins and Cowboys both won in dramatic fashion just before the Giants kicked off against the Saints.

But instead of feeling the pressure, the Giants heeded Antrel Rolle's plea to play nastier and bring a dog mentality onto the field. They responded by forcing four turnovers on defense and building a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter. The Saints closed to within 35-27 late in the third, but Eli Manning answered with a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz to open the fourth.

Now the Giants go into the final three games clinging to a one-game lead in the division but looking a lot more explosive and potent. The Giants just have to show they can be consistent and quit the roller-coaster weekly act.

Eli bounces back: Manning got off to a shaky start, throwing a 73-yard pick-six in the first quarter. He would later throw another interception, but he had his most productive day of the season with a season-high four touchdowns.

He still looks uncharacteristically off on some of his throws like his interceptions and when he underthrew Cruz on one completion. But he came through in the red zone when the Giants needed it most, and the offense looked prolific again.

David is Goliath: David Wilson has been saying all season he is going to finally break a kickoff return for a touchdown. That day came on Sunday, when he returned one 97 yards in the first quarter.

But he was a monster overall. He scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one on return. And he broke 100 yards for the first time in his career with Ahmad Bradshaw in and out due to a knee issue. He set a franchise record with 327 all-purpose yards.

On Wilson's first kickoff return, he went 58 yards to put the Giants at the Saints’ 44. He also had a 52-yard return in the second quarter to set the team’s franchise record for kickoff-return yards. Jerrel Jernigan even got into the act with a 60-yard return on a short kickoff designed to avoid Wilson near the end of the third quarter.

But Wilson didn’t stop at just kickoffs. He scored on a 6-yard touchdown run early in the second half to put the Giants up 28-13, and he picked up the slack in the running game in the fourth quarter with Bradshaw resting. He busted a 52-yard touchdown run in the fourth while the Giants were trying to run out the clock.

Safety dance: Kenny Phillips was inactive thanks to a knee injury, but the Giants' safeties still made big plays.

Will Hill, who came in when the Giants used their three-safety look, combined with Stevie Brown to jar the ball loose from Marques Colston early in the first quarter. Rolle recovered.

Then later in the quarter, Rolle forced a fumble by Jed Collins and Linval Joseph recovered and returned it 16 yards to help set up the Giants’ second touchdown of the game to go up 14-7.

Brown also came up with two big interceptions that led to 10 points for the Giants.

What’s next: The Giants travel to Atlanta to face Matt Ryan and the Falcons, who lost on Sunday for only the second time this season, falling 30-20 to Carolina.

Rapid Reaction: Redskins 17, Giants 16

December, 3, 2012

LANDOVER, Md. -- With a chance to expand their lead in the NFC East, the New York Giants couldn't beat Robert Griffin III for a second time this season as the Washington Redskins edged the Giants to put the division back up for grabs.

What it means: The Giants did a terrific job of keeping the ball out of RG3’s hands in the first half but Eli Manning couldn't move the ball twice after falling behind 17-16 in the fourth. The Giants' defense also couldn't get a stop at the end when it had to. The Giants allowed the Redskins to rush for more than 200 yards.

Now the Redskins, who have won three straight games, and Cowboys trail the Giants by one game in the division with four left to play.

Giant penalties: The Giants had some drive-killing penalties. Two hurt the Giants as they were in comeback mode in the fourth quarter after falling behind 17-16.

Jim Cordle was flagged for a penalty on a David Wilson kickoff return after Wilson got to near midfield. The penalty pinned the Giants to their own 8-yard line, and they went three-and-out.

And then Will Beatty was flagged for holding to nullify a first-down pass to Martellus Bennett, turning a first down into a third-and-20 instead. The Giants didn’t convert and had to punt.

Fumble and rumble: The Redskins were threatening in the third quarter but the Giants' defense came up with a couple of big plays.

First, Stevie Brown dragged Griffin down by his jersey for a touchdown-saving tackle after Griffin gained 46 yards on a third-and-1 option run. Then Chase Blackburn forced an Alfred Morris fumble, and the Giants recovered at their own 9-yard line. As players piled up trying to go after the ball, a scuffle ensued. Linval Joseph and Will Montgomery got into it, with Joseph stepping on Montgomery. Rocky Bernard also had to be separated from a Redskin.

Joseph and Kory Lichtensteiger were called for personal fouls but there were no ejections. The Giants turned that turnover into a Lawrence Tynes field goal to lead 16-10.

RG3 first-half kryptonite: The Giants found a way to stop RG3 -- keep him off the field.

The Giants held the ball for 20:32 in the first half, compared to the Redskins’ 9:28. They put together long, time-consuming drives and they converted on third down. The Giants were 8-for-10 on third downs in the first half.

The Redskins had trouble stopping the run as Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 77 yards in the first half. Also, the Giants went to Bennett, who had five catches for 82 yards and one touchdown to help the Giants lead 13-10 at intermission.

The Giants’ lead could have been greater if not for six first-half penalties and RG3’s fortunate fumble right into Josh Morgan’s hands for a touchdown.

Osi, Locklear start: The Giants started Osi Umenyiora at right defensive end with Jason Pierre-Paul nursing a back issue.

Also, the Giants started Sean Locklear at right tackle for David Diehl, who suffered a burner the previous week. Diehl, though, had to come in for Locklear, who had his right leg rolled up on and twisted badly with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. Locklear was carted off the field, and the injury looked serious.

On defense, Kenny Phillips played but did not start. The Giants went with three linebackers, using Keith Rivers to go with Blackburn and Michael Boley in their base package. Phillips came in to go with Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown on passing downs but he didn’t look like his normal self and didn’t play as much in the second half.

What’s next: Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints pay a visit Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Rapid Reaction: Bengals 31, Giants 13

November, 11, 2012

CINCINNATI –- The New York Giants are officially on their bye week now, but their offense went into bye week mode a long time ago. The champs were smashed by the Bengals 31-13.

What it means: The Giants are 6-4, but they have some serious issues to correct. The offense has vanished and couldn't do much of anything against a team that had lost four straight games.

Eli Manning is in a full-blown slump, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble on Sunday. Any time Manning tries to go deep, the quarterback and his receiver just seem to be on the wrong page. The running game has no bite. The offensive line, which had been so good for much of the season, has protection breakdowns. Other times, Manning holds on to the ball too long. And third downs have become a major issue.

The defense continues to surrender big plays, and the special teams were spotty again as the Giants dropped to 0-6 all time at Cincinnati.

The Giants' coaching staff has a lot of work to do during the bye week. Perhaps the break will be good for the players to get away from this stinking mess.

Struggles continue: The Giants' offense is deteriorating.

Manning completed 15 of 20 passes in the first half but for only 107 yards. Manning, who was sacked twice in the first half, tried to jump-start the offense with short passes to Hakeem Nicks, who had seven receptions for 63 yards by halftime –- the most catches he has had since Week 2, when he had 10 receptions for 199 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay.

But it got worse in the third quarter. The Giants had a three-and-out, Ahmad Bradshaw then fumbled, and on the ensuing possession, Manning tried to make something happen with Geno Atkins hanging on him. But his pass was deflected by Michael Johnson, and Pat Sims picked off the pass at the Giants' 12 to set up another Bengals touchdown. That put the Bengals up 24-6 midway through the third.

Manning threw another interception while in Atkins' clutches, this time to Nate Clements, who returned it to the Giants' 16 to set up Andy Dalton's fourth touchdown pass. That pushed the Giants' deficit to 31-6.

Adding to the misery was the fact that the Giants lost Domenik Hixon to an ankle injury, and Victor Cruz dropped a sure touchdown in the fourth.

Go Green: The offense wasn't the only culprit. A.J. Green said last week that he saw holes in the Giants' defense, and he wasn't kidding.

On the fifth play of the game, Green took advantage of a Giants breakdown and waltzed into the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown after Corey Webster stopped short on coverage in what appeared to be a mix-up.

It was the ninth receiving touchdown of 26 yards or longer that the Giants have allowed this season.

The Bengals added another 11-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Andrew Hawkins to take a 14-0 lead just 4:07 into the game.

Brown starts: The Giants started Andre Brown on the first play of the first and second half. Bradshaw still received the majority of the carries in the first three quarters, but he did lose a fumble.

What's next: The Giants take their much-needed bye week. They might get some reinforcements with Kenny Phillips and Jacquian Williams still on the mend.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 27, Redskins 23

October, 21, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning had an off day, but he saved his best for last, throwing a 77-yard touchdown strike to Victor Cruz with 1:13 left to lift the Giants over the Redskins 27-23 in a crucial NFC East showdown.

What it means: The Giants avoided what could have been a disastrous 0-3 division start. They needed an exciting comeback to do so, though.

After watching Robert Griffin III convert a fourth-and-10 by scrambling all over the place and then later a 24-yard scramble that helped set up a touchdown pass to Santana Moss, the Giants answered with Manning's bomb to Cruz for the win.

Second-half defense: Chris Canty returned off the physically unable to perform list and started the game at defensive tackle. But the Giants struggled to stop the run early on.

Rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 94 yards, and the Redskins gained 146 yards on the ground in the first half alone. Griffin also broke a handful of runs for large gains.

But in the second half, the Giants stepped up and forced a Morris fumble and then intercepted Griffin on back-to-back Redskins possessions.

Midway through the fourth, the Giants stopped a Redskins drive as Jason Pierre-Paul forced a Griffin fumble on his second sack of the game. When the Redskins got the ball back at the Giants' 32 on the next play with an interception, the Giants' defense held the Redskins to a field goal.

Griffin beat the Giants' defense on what appeared to be a game-winning drive, but Manning answered. RG3 then could not duplicate his scoring drive, as the Giants' defense came up with a game-clinching fumble recovery.

Linval Joseph had a strong game with a forced fumble and fumble recovery, and Justin Tuck registered his first sack and celebratory bow of the season.

Off Eli: Manning was off. He missed a wide-open Cruz in the end zone in the first half and later overthrew Cruz on a bomb early in the third.

Then he threw an interception inside the Giants' 20 on a pass that appeared to be intended for Martellus Bennett. And then up 20-13 with seven minutes left following a huge Griffin fumble, Manning threw a pass on first down right to linebacker Rob Jackson for an interception at the Giants' 32-yard line.

Manning salvaged the day with his big touchdown at the end.

Brown returns: Andre Brown returned from a concussion and scored on a 1-yard touchdown leap. Ahmad Bradshaw entered the game red-hot with two straight 100-yard games, but Brown got the goal-line carries in the first half. Bradshaw carried the ball at the goal line in the second half and scored on a 1-yard touchdown.

What's next: The Giants stay in the NFC East and travel to Dallas. It's a critical game since the Giants already lost to Dallas at home in the season opener.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 41, Browns 27

October, 7, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants hadn’t even broken a sweat yet and found themselves down 14-0 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. But once the defending champs got warmed up, they routed the winless Browns 41-27.

What it means: The Giants took care of business and won a game they had to have with a brutal schedule ahead of them. The Giants are 3-2 through their first five games, but their final 11 games will be against division foes or playoff teams from last year.

Bottom line: The Giants had to win this one, and they got the job done with several key starters or contributors out for the game.

Quick turnaround: There’s something about these 1 p.m. home starts for the Giants against an inferior opponent. Last season, the Giants struggled at home against Seattle, Washington and then-winless Miami.

On Sunday, the Giants fell behind 14-0 less than five minutes into the game. Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled on the first offensive play of the game to set up Cleveland’s first touchdown. And then Brandon Weeden hit Josh Gordon on a 62-yard touchdown bomb on middle linebacker Chase Blackburn.

But the Giants outscored Cleveland 27-3, including the last 20 points of the first half, to go into halftime up 27-17.

Salsa time: With Hakeem Nicks out, Victor Cruz picked up the slack, scoring three touchdowns.

In fact, the Giants' receivers all stepped up. With Ramses Barden also out with a concussion, Domenik Hixon and Rueben Randle saw plenty of action. Randle had five receptions for 78 yards and Hixon had four catches for 48 in the first half, respectively.

Stevie Wonder: Starting in place of the injured Kenny Phillips (knee), Stevie Brown had quite a first half. He intercepted an overthrown pass by Weeden and returned it 46 yards to give the Giants the ball at the Browns’ 40. Two plays later, the Giants scored to tie the game at 17 in the second quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, Will Hill forced a Josh Cribbs fumble and Brown recovered and took it to the Browns’ 29-yard line. Eli Manning hit Cruz for the second time in the end zone to put the Giants up 24-17 with 1:10 remaining in the half.

Brown has done very well filling in. He had a pick against Carolina coming in for Rolle and should continue to start for Phillips, who could miss next week’s game with an MCL injury.

The Giants do have to make a roster move on Monday to make room for Tyler Sash, who has served his four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

Angry Ahmad: Bradshaw may have fumbled his first carry of the game, but he ran angry and hard for not only his first 100-yard game of the season but also a career-high 200 yards.

Andre Brown was knocked out of the game early with a head injury, but Bradshaw had 80 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. Bradshaw's neck looks just fine. And David Wilson scored his first touchdown in explosive fashion -- a 40-yard run spelling Bradshaw.

What’s next: It’s an NFC Championship Game rematch as the Giants travel to San Francisco for a highly anticipated reunion with the Niners, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 36, Panthers 7

September, 20, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. –- Shorthanded and playing on little rest, the New York Giants dominated Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers with an impressive 36-7 victory.

PanthersGiantsWhat it means: No Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw and David Diehl? No problem. The Giants jumped out to a 23-0 lead and never looked back, with huge performances from their replacements.

Andre Brown ignited the running game for a second straight game. Ramses Barden finally gave everyone a glimpse of what he can do as a starter, making big catch after big catch over the middle. The offensive line looked strong again. Perry Fewell's defense produced its strongest effort of the season.

The defending champs might just be gaining some steam after their slow start against Dallas in the season opener. And they have lots of time to get healthy before their next game.

Quick start: After slow starts in their first two games that saw them trail the Dallas Cowboys 14-3 in the third quarter and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-13 at the half, the Giants got off to a terrific start against the Panthers.

The Giants scored on their first four possessions, and were methodical in doing so. The running game was clicking, and Eli Manning kept throwing to his receivers as though Nicks was on the field.

The Giants looked as though they carried over the momentum from the 25-point fourth quarter against Tampa Bay, and Carolina looked absolutely stunned.

The Replacements I: In his first career start, Brown rushed for 96 yards -- by halftime. He ran hard, looked patient and waited for holes to open up. He scored two touchdowns, and looked good in goal-line situations as well. He finished with 113 rushing yards on 20 carries.

It certainly looks like the Giants have found themselves a nice complement to Bradshaw, when he returns, and a very good replacement if Bradshaw (neck) is out for more time.

The Replacements II: Barden came up as big as his 6-foot-6 frame, with a monster first-half effort as well. He hauled in seven balls by halftime, and repeatedly came up with big receptions while absorbing some hits as well. He finished with nine catches for 138 yards.

Barden’s effort was huge, as he gave Manning another option when the Panthers tried to take Victor Cruz away. Nicks (foot) should be ready to play next week, but Barden showed the Giants that they have another weapon in the arsenal with Domenik Hixon recovering from a concussion.

The Replacements III: With Diehl (knee) out, the Giants' offensive line turned in another strong performance. Manning was practically untouched for much of the first three quarters until being sacked late in the third quarter.

Will Beatty started at left tackle and Sean Locklear started at right tackle, and the Giants' running game looked good while Manning had plenty of time to throw for much of the game.

The Replacements IV: Rookie Jayron Hosley, starting at cornerback and having his progression accelerated due to injuries in the secondary, continues to get better.

He came in and pressured Newton on blitzes, and had an impressive interception after a pass thrown behind Brandon LaFell went off LaFell’s hands.

Hosley did have to leave the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. Corey Webster broke a bone in his right hand but finished the game. And Antrel Rolle also had to go to the locker room on a cart after banging his left knee on a camera in the corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter. He has a knee laceration and the Giants are hoping no more than a bruise.

The Giants cannot afford any more injuries to their secondary.

What’s next: The Giants have a much-needed break before visiting Michael Vick & Co. in Philadelphia on Sept. 30 to renew a heated NFC East rivalry.

Rapid Reaction: Panthers 20, Giants 10

August, 13, 2011
WHAT IT MEANS: Nothing really. It’s only the preseason opener but we got our first glimpse at the Giants and there were some things to like (Jason Pierre-Paul) and some things that haven’t changed a whole lot (special teams coverage and return game). Kicker Lawrence Tynes also suffered a thigh injury, and we'll have to see how bad it is. Here’s a few things we noticed tonight:

HERE WE GO AGAIN: The Giants' special teams struggled again. Tynes got injured on a blocked field goal, suffering what the team says is a thigh contusion. He missed three field goals in all, from 56, 37 and 44 yards out. The 44-yarder was the one that was blocked. A Panther ran into Tynes, striking his thigh with the helmet. Tynes eventually got up and walked off under his own power to the locker room. He finished 1-for-4 on the night.

The punting wasn’t bad as Matt Dodge and Steve Weatherford took turns. But the coverage left a lot to be desired. As for the return game, third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan returned kickoffs and punts for the first team and did very little.

The Giants did use a few of their rookies on coverage, so there is a lot to improve on. We’ll see what happens with Tynes.

DOWN WITH JPP: No Osi Umenyiora? No problem. If there was a positive with Umenyiora sitting out practices, it had to be Jason Pierre-Paul getting first-team reps at defensive end.

Pierre-Paul collected two sacks in his limited action and looked like a force. On one play, he probably was held by a Panthers offensive lineman before collecting a sack on the very next play.

“I thought I played pretty good,” Pierre-Paul said in quotes distributed by the team during the game. “I knew what I was supposed to do and I was just out there executing. I came out, and I wasn't nervous. I knew the play calls, and I caught on very well. I just felt good. It felt very good. I knew what I was doing.”

Pierre-Paul said he would be faster this season and so far, he might be right.

THE OFFENSE: The offense looked a bit rusty. Eli Manning completed 4-of-9 passes for 36 yards. Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 21 yards on five carries.

The first-team offense played through the first drive of the second quarter and failed to register a first down, going 0-for-5.

“We didn't get off to a great start,” Manning said. “We didn't make any critical mistakes, didn't turn the ball over, so those are positives. But we were never able to get into a great rhythm. We missed a few opportunities and made a couple mental mistakes. Those are the things that kept us from keeping drives alive."

A FEWELL OBSERVATIONS: It’s still early but here’s a few things we noticed on defense:

Mathias Kiwanuka played the first two downs as a linebacker as advertised but was moved to defensive end often on third downs with Justin Tuck moving inside. We’ll have to see what happens when Osi comes back.

The Giants did the same with their second team, moving linebacker Adrian Tracy to defensive end, his college position, on third downs as well.

They played Jonathan Goff and Michael Boley on passing downs with first team and Boley came up with a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown to put the Giants up 7-0 with 12:57 to go in the first quarter.

But after Tynes missed a 56-yard field goal attempt, the defense gave up a touchdown, allowing Carolina to go 54 yards on three plays in 58 seconds. Tight end Greg Olsen caught an 18-yard touchdown. The former Bears tight end had three receptions for 58 yards in the first half.

POSITION BATTLES: It’s still very early but Domenik Hixon got the first crack at third wide receiver. He caught three passes on one drive from backup QB Sage Rosenfels. Hixon had four catches for 49 yards in his first preseason game since blowing out his ACL in a practice last summer. Victor Cruz, who could be Hixon’s primary challenger at the moment, finished with one reception for 10 yards. He did have a nice hit while covering on a punt.

Rosenfels got the first crack to show what he has for the backup quarterback spot as David Carr sat out this game with his shot coming in the second preseason game.

Rosenfels finished 13-for-19 for 129 yards.

INACTIVES: TE Travis Beckum, WR Ramses Barden, C Adam Koets, DE Osi Umenyiora, LB Clint Sintim, WR Samuel Giguere, S Brian Jackson, CB Joe Burnett and C Jim Cordle were inactive.