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Giants vs. Panthers: Sideline notes and observations

Sunday's game against the Panthers was one of the wildest I have seen in my 13 years traveling with the Giants. There were so many seemingly game-changing plays. I'll try to touch on as many as I can in my film review. 

Let's take a look at plays the Giants executed well, or could improve on for their game on Thursday against the Eagles. 

• This is a loss the Giants will rue after looking at the mistakes they made throughout in all three phases of the game. Whether it was turnovers on offense and special teams, dropped passes, missed throws, costly penalties or missed tackles and missed assignments on defense, the Giants made too many mistakes to win a close game on the road against one of last year's playoff participants. If the team can clean up some of those things, they will win more football games. 

• Eli Manning made some great throws (deep balls to wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Russell Shepard, a deep out to Beckham on the sideline), but there are some he would like back, too. In the first half, Manning was high with a pass over the middle for tight end Rhett Ellison on a third and long that would have been a conversion. A throw off a rollout on an out route to Beckham was nearly intercepted if Beckham didn't knock it away. On Manning's first interception, free safety Mike Adams was at the line of scrimmage looking like he was going to blitz in the B-gap, but at the snap he dropped back into coverage and floated right into the passing lane. Manning never saw him, and Adams grabbed the interception. Manning's second interception was due to not being on the same page as wide receiver Sterling Shepard. Manning thought Shepard was going to take his route straight up the field, but Shepard faded and settled into an open area near the sideline. The result was another throw that went directly to Adams.

• On Beckham's near touchdown in the third quarter, I'm not sure if it was really a high throw. On his route, Beckham slowed to almost face Manning rather than running hard through his route towards the end line. It forced him to jump up to grab the pass. If he had continued running hard in his route, I think it might have been an easy basket catch near the back line. It is hard to tell on tape exactly what the design was.  

• Manning had to deal with pressure in the pocket for much of the day, but did a good job sliding to avoid it while keeping his eyes downfield. On one second quarter play, Manning slid left to avoid a rusher, faked to Barkley short to draw the cornerback up, then hit wide receiver Jawill Davis in the Cover Two hole near the sideline for a 23-yard gain. 

• The Giants did a nice job attacking the Panther off-coverage and Cover 3 with slants throughout. Two to Beckham and one to Sterling Shepard nearly turned into long gains with runs after the catch, but Carolina's secondary players made nice tackles in the open field. 

• There was something wrong on the fourth down play where Beckham dropped the crossing route. He and Russell Shepard wound up in nearly the same spot on their crossing routes and even knocked into each other a little bit. Regardless, Beckham knows he needs to come up with that ball. 

• The design on the Beckham/Saquon Barkley double-pass was a good one. Ellison, who was lined up on the opposite side of the field than Beckham, ran a drag route across the field, pulling the defensive back with him. It left Barkley alone with rookie linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr., who got caught peaking to Beckham's side of the field after he caught the backwards pass. We all saw the result.

• The Giants running game was far too inconsistent. Barkley broke a couple of big ones on his sheer inhuman elusiveness, but he had nine rushes in the game that went for one or fewer yards, and 11 that went for two or fewer yards. There was far too much penetration in the backfield. The Panthers did commit to stop the run, but there were still too many rushes for loss. I'll put it this way, Barkley had one run for 20 yards in the first half, and another for 30 yards in the second half. He finished with 15 carries for 48 yards. His 13 other carries went for -2 yards. If you want to be a team that pounds the rock, that can't happen. 

• On Barkley's potential game-winning touchdown, the Panthers tried to have defensive end Efe Obada cover him. Needless to say, Barkley beat him to the sideline with speed and then made a ridiculous leap to score the touchdown. 

• The Giants' first quarter defensively was littered with poor tackling, especially on the back end. The Giants missed multiple tackles on wide receiver DJ Moore's end around and wide receiver Curtis Samuel's touchdown catch. 

• Cornerback Eli Apple was not one of those players. He did give up a few catches to wide receiver Devin Funchess, but also put a nice hit on Cam Newton that forced a fumble the Giants failed to recover. Apple has been a physical presence throughout the early part of the season. 

• Excellent anticipation by free safety Curtis Riley on the skinny post Cam Newton tried to squeeze into rookie tight end Ian Thomas. He was in the single-high safety position with the route coming right at him. He moved up to jump the route, and Thomas flattened out after seeing Riley move forward, giving Riley the clean catch.

• Defenive lineman Josh Mauro was impressive in his first game out. He held his ground in the run game and made an immediate impact in the defensive line rotation. The Giants run defense was shaky early in the game but really tightened as the game went along, especially in the fourth quarter. Newton never got his run game going either. 

• The Giants do need to figure out a way to get a more consistent pass rush. There were too many instances when Newton was allowed to survey the field without feeling any heat. 

• There was a play in the third quarter where it looked like Panthers right guard Trai Turner made a tackle on running back Christian McCaffrey in the backfield. On the play, it was linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong that put such a big hit on Turner that he was sent flying into McCaffrey. 

• Janoris Jenkins was wonderful in coverage the entire game. His only poor play came on the Panthers final drive when he allowed a DJ Moore deep in cut to go for 20 yards, helping to set up the game winning drive.

• There seemed to be a lot of confusion on the McCaffrey 18-yard touchdown catch. Nobody covered him coming out of the backfield. 

• Give Landon Collins an assist on the Jenkins interception. Collins was coming on a blitz and McCaffrey tried to cut him down low, but Collins hurdled him and forced Newton to unload the ball. Thomas settled into a spot on his crossing route, but Newton led him with the ball instead, and threw it right to Jenkins. 

• Excellent play by Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and B.J. Goodson, who went over the top to help stop Newton's fourth quarter quarterback sneak. Give the Panthers credit for a gutsy fourth and one call, finding Jarius Wright, who lined up at the end of the offensive line and faked a block before releasing into his route. Curtis Riley couldn't get there in time to stop the pass. 

• Sneaky smart play by Devin Funchess on the Panthers game-winning drive. He hurt himself running an out route in front of Eli Apple, but limped off the field quickly so the Panthers wouldn't be forced to use their final timeout. 

• When I watched the final scramble kickoff return live, I thought if Shepard had just kept it at the end and run straight, he would have had a chance to score. On second look, Jarius Wright had a good angle on Shepard and would have caught him, especially with Graham Gano in position to make a play as well.