Sunday, September 12, 2010
Wrap-up: Giants 31, Panthers 18
By Matt Mosley
What it means: It's a great way to open New Meadowlands Stadium and it helps dim the memories from that embarrassing loss to the Carolina Panthers in the 2009 finale. But the New York Giants began last season 5-0, so no one is going to jump to conclusions. You can't call a season-opener a "must-win" but this one sort of had that feel. The Giants need to establish an identity early in the season, and that second half should provide a nice foundation. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks served notice he is ready to challenge the top receivers in the NFC East in terms of big-play ability.
Tomorrow's talker: The headline to me was the play of the Giants' defensive line. Mathias Kiwanuka came off the bench and had two sacks. Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Kiwanuka took over the game in the second half and Matt Moore didn't have a chance. It made me remember those 2007 and 2008 teams. New defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has changed the mindset of this defense. I think he has brought energy to the entire team and it's good to see the defensive line responding to him in such a big way.
What I liked: That running back Ahmad Bradshaw didn't show any frustration when the Panthers were shutting him down. He kept plugging away until he finally broke a big one. Then he pounded the ball into the end zone on third down. Brandon Jacobs isn't going to embrace this situation, but Bradshaw can't worry about that. It's obvious he's now the feature back.
Big revelation: Safety Kenny Phillips proved a lot this game. Playing in his first real game since microfracture surgery, Phillips had an interception and also made a really nice shoestring tackle on DeAngelo Williams to prevent a touchdown in the first half. The Giants are stacked at safety, which is a huge change from last season.
What's next: The Giants travel to Indianapolis to play against an angry football team. Peyton Manning put up huge numbers, like he usually does, but the Colts still lost to the Houston Texans. Indy can't afford to start the season 0-2, so the Giants will encounter a desperate team. I'm anxious to see what Fewell can come up with to disrupt the elder Manning. He'll be a little tougher to rattle than Moore.