If you were a Panther fan, the best part of Thursday night was the walk to the stadium. The weather was gorgeous, the sidewalks were packed and the atmosphere electric.
After that, it was all downhill.
With the Giants scoring on their first four possessions, the lead was 20-0 at halftime and it ended up with New York whipping Carolina, 36-7.
A magician performed at halftime, but the only thing that truly disappeared was most of the fans by early in the fourth quarter. The Panthers haven’t played worse in a long time, not since the 30-3 shellacking that Tennessee put on them in Charlotte last November.
Most everyone had a bad night -- here's a video we did about the game if you are a glutton for punishment -- but here are seven Panther players who really struggled:
1) Cam Newton. Newton had a reputation coming out of college for being a somewhat inaccurate passer. We haven’t seen that much in the NFL, but it reared up Thursday. He only completed one of his first six passes, and a later throw to Brandon LaFell was behind him and resulted in a tip and interception. It wasn’t all Newton’s fault by any means, but he did throw three interceptions on the night. And by the time he finally led a TD drive, the Giants were already up 23-0. Newton, whose QB rating was a woeful 40.6, later called the Panthers' overall effort "a performance of embarrassment."
2) Jon Beason. The linebacker had two critical misplays that you simply have to make. He bounced off an early attempted tackle of Andre Brown, allowing the former N.C. State back to run for 31 yards. And he had one of Eli Manning’s few misfires go right between his hands – a sure interception that he somehow managed not to even touch.
3) Garry Williams. Subbing in for Byron Bell at right tackle, Williams was often taken to school by Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
4) Josh Norman. The rookie cornerback was too often beaten by unknown Giants receiver Ramses Barden, who played because Hakeem Nicks was out due to a foot injury and had 138 receiving yards. The Panthers paid too much attention to Victor Cruz and too little to Barden, and Rivera said after the game that Norman's coverage was "too soft."
5) Charles Johnson. He showed up early on a near-sack and then was barely noticed after that. The Panthers pay Johnson huge money to be their pre-eminent pass rusher in games like this, but Manning had time to send a text before most of his throws.
6) Charles Godfrey. The safety had two potential – not easy, but possible -- interceptions go through his hands, and then he compounded matters but ripping off the helmet of a Giants player in the fourth quarter and getting a personal foul.
7) Joe Adams. Two lost fumbles?! When the Panthers put Adams on the coverage teams to make something happen, that’s not what they had in mind. After listening to Rivera in the postgame -- he said Adams might be "star-struck" and mentioned possible replacements -- it sounds to me like Adams isn't going to be playing for awhile.
One last note: I have read all the comments on the previous post about "Best night game memory ever" and really enjoyed them. I have now decided on the winners as well. If you wrote either the entry about 1) Hurricane Katrina and the Guardsmen; 2) Watching Brad Hoover as a 13-year-old and getting sick enough not to have to go to school the next day or 3) about facing your first deployment in 2000 but losing yourself in a Panther game for 3 hours, congratulations -- I have a signed book for you. You will need to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, physical address and what entry you wrote (we can check all these comments via IP addresses if we need to, so make sure the entry was yours). Thanks to everyone who participated.