CHARLOTTE -- The New York Giants lugged all kinds of questions into Thursday night's meeting with the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. By halftime, they led 20-0 and seemed to have answered a bunch of them.
Start with the passing game, which was without big-play starter Hakeem Nicks, who is still recovering from foot surgery. Someone needed to line up across from talented Victor Cruz and replace him. That someone proved to be Ramses Barden, a 6-foot-6 WR who was listed as third on the press box depth chart and had 16 previous receptions in his previous three seasons. Barden was quick and precise in his routes, and aided by the shorter Carolina corners. He entered the game with one reception this season, but by the break, had seven catches for 123 yards, and left the Panthers' secondary looking overmatched.
Much of the credit for that goes to QB Eli Manning, who consistently threw underneath a Panthers' defense which apparently was expecting him to go deep and accordingly was in a soft zone. Manning consistently hit his receivers in stride, finishing the half at 19-for-25 for 208 yards and a TD, resulting in a 113.4 passer rating.
Follow that with the running game, also expected to suffer with Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined. Not so much. Andre Brown, like Barden third on the depth chart, was a 227-pound load, and surprisingly quick for his size. Agile cuts and the ability to power over those he couldn't get around led to 96 first-half yards and a score on 13 carries.
Which answered yet another question, since the juggled offensive line had to work for all of the above to be successful. Right tackle David Diehl was out, but the line kept Manning clean.
Finally, New York's ballyhooed defensive line had not put much pressure on opposing QBs to date, but led by end Jason Pierre-Paul, they shut down the Panthers' option-running game. Pierre-Paul himself blocked two of QB Cam Newton's passes, and the harassed Newton completed just 5-of-12 passes for 90 yards.
Consider -- at least for the time being -- the Giants' questions to be answered in the best possible way.--