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Cover 3: Takeaways from Giants vs. Panthers

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The Giants.com crew reacts to the team's 25-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

John Schmeelk: Tip your hat to the Giants' defense on this one. For one week, they looked like the group that played well from Week 6-13 in 2020. The secondary played tight coverage, allowing only two passes of 15 or more yards by playing almost exclusively zone defense. They forced an interception and never allowed Carolina to get comfortable.

It mostly started up front, where the Giants were able to consistently win against the Panthers' offensive line in both the run and pass game for all four quarters. After the Panthers' first drive, they only gained 33 rushing yards, which usually put them behind the chains. Lorenzo Carter and Azeez Ojulari played the edges well, while Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence held firm between the tackles.

The Giants also had their best pass rushing game of the year. According to Pro Football Focus, they had a league-best 54% pressure rate against the Panthers despite only blitzing on 16% of their coverage snaps. Lawrence was a consistent force pushing the pocket and forced two offensive holding penalties to go along with his sack and four quarterback hurries. Ojulari lived in the Panthers' backfield in the fourth quarter rushing off the right edge and finished with 2.5 sacks. Leonard Williams chipped in 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits.

In a game where the Giants' offense was without four of their top playmakers (Kenny Golladay, Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard) and their starting left tackle Andrew Thomas. The defense needed to step up and they did while the Giants got their first home win of the season.

Dan Salomone: For the seventh time this season, Joe Judge gathered his team the day after a game to review the tape. For just the second time, it was after a victory, but the objective didn't change. They saw what they need to improve, what they can build on, and relayed it to the players. "Consistency" was the word going in and coming out of Sunday. They couldn't let the losses affect their preparation; the same could be said for wins. After the Giants' big victory in New Orleans, they allowed 82 points in back-to-back losses to the Cowboys and Rams. This time, they head into a hostile environment in Kansas City for a Monday night matchup with a hungry Chiefs team.

"It's something that we can definitely build on, but we have to be consistent with it," Leonard Williams said. "We can't take any fall-offs next week. Obviously teams are going to make plays at times. I think the biggest thing that we have to do is to learn how to adjust when a big play happens and don't think that it's over and just stay poised."

Lance Medow: Entering Sunday's game against Carolina, the Panthers had lost three straight in which their turnover differential was minus-5, their quarterback had issues with protecting the ball, the offensive line struggled in pass protection and with their star running back Christian McCaffrey sidelined due to a hamstring injury, they were looking to once again establish the ground attack. The Giants' opponent clearly had several weaknesses and for the first time this season, New York took advantage and didn't allow the Panthers to have their "get right" game at the Giants' expense.

When you play teams, with documented issues, in the midst of a losing skid, you need to capitalize and that's what the defense did for four quarters. The Panthers had 12 possessions and advanced the ball into New York territory just three times (twice in the first half, once in the second half). Carolina moved to the Giants 27 on the very first possession of the game and settled for a field goal. In the second quarter, Sam Darnold was picked off by James Bradberry when the Panthers moved the ball to the New York 25 and in the fourth quarter, they turned the ball over on downs after advancing to the Giants 29.

The Panthers couldn't sustain drives because they struggled on third down. Carolina converted just two of their 15 opportunities and failed on each of their last eight attempts. Five of those eight downs were for nine yards or more. During the previous week, the Rams went 2-11 on third down but Los Angeles was much more efficient on first and second down than Carolina – this was significant and a big reason why the Panthers couldn't establish the run game. They ran the ball seven times on their first drive of the game but just 10 times the rest of the contest. This is what happens when your offense can't stay on the field and you face constant pressure from the opposition. The Giants recorded six sacks and 10 quarterback hits and controlled the flow of the game in the second half.

It wasn't all pretty on offense but, in the final 30 minutes, they avoided the penalties that stalled drives in the first half. That helped them put points on the board on each of their final four possessions of the game and reward a dominant defensive performance.

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