CAROLINA PANTHERS 38 – NEW YORK GIANTS 35…
The 2015 New York Giants have turned heart-breaking losses into an art form. The Giants fell 38-35 to the undefeated Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With the defeat, the Giants fell to 6-8, having lost four of their last five games. With the Washington Redskins beating the Buffalo Bills, the Giants’ playoff hopes are dead unless the Arizona Cardinals defeat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
Another Last-Second Heart-Breaker – © USA TODAY Sports Images
The Giants lost the game despite a valiant 28-point comeback that tied the game with 1:46 left to play. But as has been the case all season, the Giants’ defense could not prevent the opposition from scoring the game-winning points late in the game as Carolina kicked a 43-yard field goal with no time remaining on the clock.
“To go out there and just let them drive down the field is just mind-boggling,” said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie after the game.
Aside from one drive, the Giants’ offense was largely inept in the first half. Their first seven possessions of the game resulted in five punts, one lost fumble, and a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Wide receiver Odell Beckham struggled for most of the game and he dropped a sure 52-yard touchdown pass on New York’s first possession. Beckham, losing his composure, was flagged with three personal foul penalties in the contest and did not have a catch until late in the third quarter. The Giants did tie the game 7-7 late in the first quarter when quarterback Eli Manning found wide receiver Rueben Randle for a 27-yard touchdown.
Defensively, in the first half, the Giants allowed three touchdowns drives of 88, 46, and 72 yards. Quarterback Cam Newton accrued 66 rushing yards and threw three touchdown passes before intermission. Rodgers-Cromartie dropped what should have been a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown.
What had been a tight 7-7 game turned late in the second quarter. It was here where Rodgers-Cromartie dropped the interception. Then running back Rashad Jennings fumbled the ball away at the New York 46-yard line. Three plays later on 3rd-and-1, Newton found a wide open tight end Greg Olsen for a 37-yard touchdown with 2:14 left in the first half. After a three-and-out, Carolina got the ball back at their own 28-yard line with 1:24 left to play. The Panthers drove the length of the field in 69 seconds to take a commanding 21-7 halftime lead on Newton’s 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Devin Funchess.
After both teams exchanged punts to start the second half, the Panthers went up 28-7 after a 7-play, 80-yard drive resulted in Newton’s fourth touchdown pass of the game, this one from 20 yards out to wide receiver Corey Brown. The Giants then went three-and-out again and the Panthers built what looked like an insurmountable 35-7 lead after a 36-yard punt return and a 7-play, 37-yard drive ended with Newton’s fifth touchdown pass of the game, and second to wide out Ted Ginn.
Will Tye – © USA TODAY Sports Images
With less than six minutes to play in the third quarter, the Giants began their furious comeback. New York started with a 13-play, 64-yard drive in which the the Giants converted on 4th-and-2 on a 5-yard pass to Beckham after Manning passionately called off the punt team. The drive ended with an 8-yard touchdown throw to tight end Will Tye on 3rd-and-4. After a three-and-out by the Panthers, the Giants cut the score to 35-21 on Jennings’ 38-yard touchdown run, finishing a 4-play, 66-yard drive.
It looked like the Panthers put the game away on their ensuing possession when they drove 62 yards in 9 plays to set up a 34-yard field goal attempt with nine minutes left to play. But the field goal attempt was blocked by Rodgers-Cromartie and recovered by cornerback Prince Amukamara at the Carolina 46-yard line. The game looked over again when Manning was intercepted in the end zone with 7:33 left to play. However, two plays later, defensive end Kerry Wynn recovered a fumble off a botched hand-off and New York was back in business. Three plays later, Manning hit running back Shane Vereen for an 8-yard score on 3rd-and-4. The Giants now trailed 35-28 with 5:27 to play.
The Panthers went three-and-out and the Giants got the ball back at their own 34-yard line with 4:17 left to play. They drove the length of the field, 66 yards, in seven plays to tie the game 35-35 with 1:46 left when Manning found Beckham for a 14-yard touchdown on 4th-and-5. Beckham had also caught a 40 yard pass earlier on the drive on 3rd-and-3.
Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images
With 28 unanswered points and all of the momentum, the Giants could not seal the deal. The defense allowed the Panthers to easily gain 49 yard yards in eight plays to set up the game-winning field goal with no time left.
Offensively, the Giants gained 406 total net yards (161 yards rushing, 245 yards passing). The Giants lost two turnovers (one fumble and one interception). Jennings carried the ball 16 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. The leading receivers were Vereen (8 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown), Beckham (6 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown), Tye (5 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown), and Randle (4 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown).
Defensively, the Giants allowed 480 total net yards (171 yards rushing, 309 yards passing). The Giants recovered one fumble (by Wynn). Newton ran for 100 yards and completed 25-of-45 passes for 340 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The Giants did accrue three sacks: 1.5 by defensive end Robert Ayers, 1.0 by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and 0.5 by linebacker J.T. Thomas. The Giants also had nine pass defenses.
Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.
Safety Cooper Taylor (concussion), WR Dwayne Harris (shoulder), and fullback Nikita Whitlock (knee) all suffered injuries in the game.
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
Inactive for the Giants were DE George Selvie (concussion), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot), WR Geremy Davis, OG Adam Gettis, OT Emmett Cleary, and CB Jayron Hosley.
With eight losses, the Giants are assured of finishing no better than .500 for the third consecutive season.
Seven of the Giants’ eight losses have been by a total of 21 points, and six of them have been by four points or less.
The Giants have lost three consecutive home games for the second consecutive season.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, it is the first time in their history the Giants rallied from a 28-point deficit to tie a game.
QB Eli Manning’s four scoring throws increased his season total to a career-high 32, the third-highest figure in Giants history. Pro Football Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle threw 36 in 1963 and 33 in 1962. Manning’s previous best was 31 touchdown passes in 2010.
Manning increased his career total to 291 touchdown passes. That moved him past another Hall of Famer, Johnny Unitas (290), and into ninth place on the NFL’s career list.
WR Odell Beckham’s streak of consecutive 100-yard games ended at six, a franchise record.
Beckham has 13 touchdown receptions this year, tying the single-season franchise record set by Homer Jones in 1967. He had 12 touchdowns as a rookie last season, and has scored 25 in his 26-game NFL career.