The Carolina Panthers lost to the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football 36-7, in a game that didn’t match the excitement and build up prior to it. It was a disappointing result both offensively and defensively, as the Panthers failed to stop Andre Brown and were lit up by both Martellus Bennett and Ramses Barden. On offense, Cam Newton threw three picks, which marred some nice deep balls to Steve Smith.
1. Captain Munnerlyn and Greg Olsen
If there are two good things I’m going to take out of this game, then that’s the further progress of slot corner Captain Munnerlyn and another good pass-catching performance from tight end Greg Olsen. Munnerlyn had a difficult match-up against Victor Cruz, who was supposed to be the biggest weapon in the passing offense with Hakeem Nicks out. Barden picked up the slack and torched the Panthers secondary, but give credit to Munnerlyn for doing a great job in helping to hold Cruz to just 42 receiving yards. While he did have six catches, he only averaged seven yards per catch to give the Panthers a net gain in holding him down.
Olsen will never be a good run blocker, which hurt his value in the Chicago Bears eyes, but the role of the tight end is primarily as a pass-catcher these days. Olsen is one of the most underrated receiving tight ends in the league, and he was the Panthers most productive player on offense with seven catches for 98 receiving yards.
2. Barden Breaks Out
Honestly, the first time I heard of Ramses Barden was when playing Madden 11 and wondering who he was. Now, I know who he is. Without Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks, Eli Manning turned towards him and received a big day from Barden. He finished with nine catches for 138 yards on ten targets, which means he was almost perfect out there. Manning was incredibly efficient, averaging 8.2 yards per attempt and completely outshined Newton.
3. The other TE
Olsen was great, but I would be lying if I said he played like the best TE out there. Martellus Bennett was always a great run blocker for the Dallas Cowboys, but he has broken out as a top pass-catching option at the position for the Giants. Bennett was expected to receive a good dose of targets and capitalize on them without Nicks and Hixon, and he didn’t disappoint. Bennett finished with six receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown on seven targets and continues to do his job well.
4. William Beatty and Sean Locklear dominate
Sean Locklear may be the backup right tackle, but he played well in starter David Diehl’s absence and is, in all honesty, the better player at this point. Beatty was even better, and he has made detractors like me look terrible with some solid displays- including yesterday’s beauty. Beatty did an excellent job containing Charles Johnson when asked to, and the Panthers were only able to get two hits on Manning during the game.
On a side note, the Panthers did an excellent job containing Justin Tuck, who is off to a terrible start this season. The Giants were able to get a sack from Osi Umenyiora, and Michael Boley and Jason Pierre-Paul also combined for a sack with most of the work being done by Boley. JPP was excellent in this game, but Osi wasn’t nearly as consistent as the Giants would have liked him to be given Tuck’s early slump.
5. Games Like This…
Disappointing losses really dampen the mood, and this 36-7 blowout loss to the Giants is yet another let down for fans like us who have high hopes but have them shot down. The 35-27 win over the New Orleans Saints made me think that great things were on the way and a big game on TNF was in line, and I never saw this type of a loss coming. I’m not going to point the finger at anything specific, because things just fell apart for the Panthers as a team. Newton isn’t going to play this poorly every week, and the running game will be better once Jonathan Stewart gets back. There are still concerns in the back seven, but there are also encouraging things like Munnerlyn’s string of solid performances.
I’m not going to lie, I am upset. But there’s so much negativity going around that I want to try and remain upbeat. Writing a piece cursing the team isn’t going to help anyone at this point.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.