Andre Brown and Ramses Barden are both fantasy football monsters, the New York Giants are again over .500, and all is right with the world. Giants fans are feeling much better about their beloved Big Blue following the team's romp over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, a game that saw the Giants help erase six quarters of "meh" football from one's memory. Multiple individuals have already broken down New York's ability to win without several lineup mainstays on the field, and there's not much more anybody could say about how well Brown and Barden performed during the win. Here, instead, are three different things I took from Thursday's blowout.
3 final thoughts on Giants routing the Panthers: Different guy, same story
Barden grabbed headlines with his play against the Panthers, and Victor Cruz and (a healthy) Hakeem Nicks will routinely make highlight reel grabs. One thing we've learned at this early stage of the 2012 campaign is that Eli Manning will again be targeting a tight end once in or near the red zone. Martellus Bennett, labeled by some as a "Cowboys bust" and a player who worried some New York fans by showing not-so-soft hands in August and September, is quickly evolving into another reliable TE to feature in the team's offense during the Manning era. He reeled in Manning's only touchdown pass of the evening, and he has found the end zone in each of New York's first three games of the season.
I spoke with one analyst about Bennett on the same day the former Dallas player joined the Giants, and I was told to expect great things; somebody who could outdo the best stats put up by Kevin Boss when he was with the team. I'm not expecting Bennett to finish the year with 16 touchdown receptions, but he could prove to be one of the big steals of this past spring when all is said and done.
3 final thoughts on Giants routing the Panthers: Coming around?
A depleted New York secondary was badly exposed in the first two games of the season, and there were several instances during the first half of Thursday's contest when I found myself searching for the names of unsigned cornerbacks via my phone. It still shouldn't be ignored that a Big Blue defense that was far from good enough in weeks one and two of the season hassled Cam Newton throughout the evening, forcing three interceptions and also recovering two fumbles. What's most promising about the team's defense going forward is that the front four finally looked like the advertised best d-line in football, the first time that's happened in 2012.
This game offered numerous reminders that the pass rush of the Giants doesn't necessarily need to accumulate sack after sack after sack in order to make a big impact on a game. Newton was visibly shaken in the first half, and the interception he threw early in the fourth quarter ended any hope for a Carolina rally. The Giants defense now has over a week to get rested and healthy before facing a Philadelphia Eagles offense that is averaging over a turnover per quarter heading into this Sunday.
3 final thoughts on Giants routing the Panthers: Forgotten fact
Several Giants fans I spoke with on Wednesday and Thursday were expecting the worst considering New York went into the game without both Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks. One thing such individuals, myself included (I predicted a NYG loss during such conversations), forgot about is that the Giants are a very solid road team. New York defeated Philadelphia, Arizona, New England and Dallas in road contests in 2011, and the Giants were also the "away team" in their Christmas Eve contest against the New York Jets. They gave the 49ers a scare in a game played in San Francisco last November, and the Giants avenged regular season losses in playoff contests played in Green Bay and San Fran.
I bring this up because the Giants once again have several noteworthy road games in 2012, starting on September 30 with a Sunday Night showdown with Philly. They travel to San Fran and Dallas next month, and the Giants will be the road team in three of their final five games; at Washington, at Atlanta and at Baltimore. Looking at their schedule, I believe the Giants will make the playoffs if they split on the road in 2012.
Thursday night was a step in the right direction.
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