In a 38-0 Carolina whitewash that few saw coming, the Giants' Eli Manning was sacked seven times — six coming in the first 17 minutes of the game — and were miserable offensively in the first quarter, finding themselves down 31-zilch at the half.
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First, credit the dominant front of the Panthers. They came at the Giants from all angles, led by Greg Hardy, who rushed from inside and out to collect three sacks. Star Lotulelei was a monster inside, and Charles Johnson (sack, three QB hits) was Mr. Outside, as usual. It was a stunning performance by the Panthers' defense, which held the Giants to one yard or fewer on 15 of the Giants' first 24 plays.
For the game, the Giants collected a net 150 yards, and all but 28 of them came on the final four drives of the game, once it was thoroughly out of hand. Will Beatty was a turnstile at left tackle. Rookie right tackle Justin Pugh had a bad game. The offensive line as a unit played terribly, and Manning barely had time to throw. Hakeem Nicks was targeted once all afternoon, and Victor Cruz caught only three passes for 25 yards on eight throws his way.
[Photos: NFL hard hits and tackles]
The Panthers staved off talk that head coach Ron Rivera's job might be on the line — for a week or two, anyway. But the Giants now have to be in full crisis mode now. At 0-3, even in a weak NFC East, playoff hopes are drifting quickly — no 0-3 team has made them since 1998. Three more turnovers brings the season total to 13, many of which have been self-inflicted. It's going to be another long week of practice for the Giants, who have to solve these horrific offensive issues immediately.
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