Panthers 41, Giants 9
By Tom Canavan
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ó Justin Tuck has been to the mountain with New York Giants, winning an NFL title. He and the rest of the Giants tumbled into a deep valley in their final game at Giants Stadium.
It was a complete embarrassment.
Matt Moore, Jonathan Stewart and the Carolina Panthers turned the Giants’ final game in the 34-year-old stadium into of their ugliest moments in franchise history with a 41-9 rout that left New York hoping for a miracle ending to make the playoffs.
“We had everything at stake playing a team that was only playing for pride, and I guess pride won today,” Tuck said after the Giants (8-7) lost for the seventh time in 10 games. “We should have been playing with a little pride ourselves.”
The Giants, who started 5-0, turned over the ball four times and allowed the Panthers (7-8) to score on six of their first seven possessions.
Moore threw three touchdown passes, Stewart rushed for a franchise-best 206 yards and the Panthers, who lost receiver Steve Smith to a broken arm, shredded New York’s defense for 416 yards (247 on the ground).”We had to come out here and play tough and play to win, regardless of what they had on the line,” said Moore, who completed 15 of 20 passes for 171 yards in his seventh NFL start.
Stewart (1,008 yards rushing this season) joined teammate DeAngelo Williams (1,117) in the 1,000-yard club this season, ran for a 29-yard touchdown and set up another score by Brad Hoover with a 52-yard run.
The victory was the third in four games for Panthers coach John Fox, whose future remains cloudy.
“Even though we’ve had some ups and downs, the character of this team is showing as the season comes to an end,” said Stewart, who averaged 7.4 yards a carry.After a holding penalty nullified a touchdown pass and a fumble cost them the ball on their opening possession, the Giants played like a team going through the motions.
Coming off a 45-12 throttling of Washington, the Giants came up with another weak effort after a big win, their trademark this season.
“I told someone on the sideline that exact quote, that we have been part of the highest of highs,” Tuck said. “but as far as my vantage point, this is the lowest I have been in a Giants uniform.”
The Giants didn’t score until Carolina built a 31-0 lead early in the third quarter.
Eli Manning’s 26-yard touchdown pass to New York’s Steve Smith on the first series was called back by a holding penalty against Madison Hedgecock, and the drive ended when Mario Manningham fumbled on third down at the Panthers’ 17. Everything after that was all Carolina.
Moore led the Panthers on a 15-play drive before settling for a 38-yard field goal by John Kasay. Carolina scored on drives of 63, 51 and 29 yards on its next three possessions, the last set up by Richard Marshall’s interception.
“For us to play the way we did today, there is obviously no excuse for it,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
The Giants didn’t get a hand on Stewart on his cutback touchdown run that stretched the lead to 10-0. Moore extended the lead to 17-0 with a 22-yard pass to Muhsin Muhammad and encouraged more boos from the crowd with a 2-yard TD toss to wide-open tight end Jeff King.
Moore found Carolina’s Steve Smith for a 27-yard TD on the first possession of the third quarter, but Smith broke his left arm on the play. He is scheduled to have surgery today. Carolina also got a 27-yard field goal and a 1-yard TD run by Hoover, a score set up by Stewart.”You’ve got to credit the offensive line,” Moore said. “They did a great job, but the guy just runs angry and you can’t bring him down. You think he’s going down and he goes for another 15.”n
Notes: Jon Beason had a game-high 13 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. Julius Peppers had a sack and fumble recovery.