Giants Win Preseason Opener 24-17: The Giants defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-17 in their preseason opener at the Meadowlands Monday night. The Giants’ first- and second-team players out-played their Panther counterparts as the Giants took a 14-2 halftime lead.
In the first half, the Giants’ defense, missing six key players, forced three punts and three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception). Carolina was held to 96 yards of offense and did not score on offense.
“We went out there with a lot of energy,” said LB Antonio Pierce. “We were excited to get out there and hit somebody else beside ourself. We did a good job of getting three-and-outs. It was just good to be out here under these conditions in this weather against a real opponent. Defensively, we did a good job for our first time out.”
“We played well,” said DE Justin Tuck. “Normally in the first preseason game, we’ve got a lot of mistakes, but I don’t think we had too many tonight. We were fluid, and our checks went well.”
The Panthers only points in the first half came on a blocked punt that resulted in a safety.
Meanwhile, in the first quarter, QB Eli Manning and the first-team offense, minus both starting offensive guards and WR Steve Smith, put together one long drive in two possession opportunities. The Giants’ second possession was a 6-play, 77-yard affair, highlighted by a 22-yard run by HB Brandon Jacobs, an 18-yard pass to WR Domenik Hixon, and a 19-yard touchdown run by HB Ahmad Bradshaw. Guards Chris Snee and Rich Seubert were given the night off as Tuten Reyes and Kevin Boothe started.
“We did a good job,” said Manning. “On the first drive, the penalty (on RT Kareem McKenzie not lining up on the line of scrimmage) really hurt us. It kept us from getting the first down. That was a costly penalty, and you never want that. But the next time we got the ball, we drove right down. We ran the ball really well, hit a couple passes and we got a touchdown. That is always the goal. We did a nice job with it, so I thought we were effective as the first group.”
“We started off pretty good tonight,” said Jacobs. “We had that penalty on the first drive, and that kind of derailed us. I know it’s the preseason, and that type of stuff happens, but you don’t want it – ever. Overall, we were good. Guys were confident and felt good about what they were doing. We just have to keep rolling and get better as a team.”
The Giants’ second-team offense took the the field on the ensuing drive and went 63 yards in 12 plays, but stalled at the Panthers’ 25-yard line. PK Lawrence Tynes missed the 43-yard field goal attempt.
The Giants forced three turnovers in the second quarter. S Travonti Johnson forced a fumble that S C.C. Brown recovered. CB Stoney Woodson intercepted a pass that DT Anthony Bryant deflected. And DE Maurice Evans sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble that CB DeAndre Wright recovered.
After the last turnover, QB David Carr threw a quick screen to HB Danny Ware on 3rd-and-10. Ware impressively scored from 36 yards out on the play to give the Giants a 14-2 halftime advantage.
Most of the second half was an ugly affair for a mix of second-, third-, and sometimes fourth-string players for the Giants. In eight offensive possessions, the Giants punted six times, turned the ball over once (an interception by QB Andre’ Woodson), and had one 37-yard drive that resulted in a successful 46-yard field goal attempt by Tynes. In those eight drives, the Giants only gained 98 yards.
Meanwhile, after the Giants’ turnover early in the third quarter, the Panthers drove 30 yards in two plays to cut the lead to 14-9. Both plays were outside runs to the weakside where DE Dave Tollefson let the runner slip outside of him.
A mix of second-, third-, and fourth-team defenders forced four punts and a fumble on the next five Panther possessions. But on the seventh possession, Carolina drove 88 yards in five plays and just 1:24 with 2:21 left on the clock. The Panthers also scored on the ensuing 2-point conversion to tie the game at 17-17.
The Giants’ offense could not pick up a first down and punted. With 10 seconds to play and the ball on the Carolina 18-yard line, it looked like the game was headed for overtime. But the Panthers decided to run a play instead of taking a knee. DT Leger Douzable sacked the fourth-string quarterback of the Panthers and forced a fumble that DE Tommie Hill caught out of the air and raced 18 yards into the endzone as time expired for the victory.
Post-Game Notes: Not playing against the Panthers were WR Steve Smith (knee), OG Rich Seubert (shoulder), OG Chris Snee (knee), DT Fred Robbins (knee), DT Chris Canty (hamstring), DT Rocky Bernard (hamstring), LB Michael Boley (hip), CB Corey Webster (hip), and CB Aaron Ross (leg).