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Sunday, December 27, 2009
Wrap-up: Panthers 41, Giants 9

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

New York closed down Giants Stadium with what had to be one of the most disgraceful performances in franchise history.  The Giants were the only team on the field with something to play for, but it didn't matter as they were throttled by the Panthers.


A promising first drive was thwarted by a key holding penalty on fullback Madison Hedgecock and a fumble by Mario Manningham. Quarterback Eli Manning connected with Steve Smith for a 26-yard touchdown, but it was wiped out because Hedgecock needlessly threw a Panthers defender to the ground. From that moment on, the Panthers played with more passion than the Giants.

Quarterback Matt Moore picked apart the Giants' secondary and running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 206 yards. When the Giants trailed 17-0 in the second quarter, Manning was intercepted by Panthers cornerback Richard Marshall. The Giants fell behind, 31-0, before finally scoring in the third quarter.

At 8-7, the Giants need a miracle to make the playoffs. They need the Cowboys to lose their final two games. And even then, it would require the Giants to go on the road and beat the Vikings in the regular-season finale. On Sunday, Tom Coughlin learned that his team had no sense of the moment. The missed tackles that have plagued the defense throughout the season cropped up again. The inexperienced Moore completed 15-of-20 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns.

Coughlin said he was at a loss for words following the loss. He felt like the Giants had an excellent practice on Christmas day and he was stunned that they came out and performed so poorly. At this point, it's hard to imagine Bill Sheridan keeping his job as defensive coordinator. His unit has struggled all season, but the fact that the Giants gave up so many yards on the ground has to be particularly galling. The Giants weren't as physical as the Panthers in this game -- and there's no excuse for that.

Playing in front of some of the all-time greats, the Giants left an awful stench in Giants Stadium.