York Giants back in playoff shape. Chris Weinke couldn't revive
Carolina's sinking season.
|Scouts Inc.'s take ...|
The Panthers' attack was extremely unbalanced (61 passes to 15 runs). QB Chris Weinke (right) completed passes to nine different receivers but threw three interceptions. The Giants' defense didn't have great numbers (418 passing yards allowed), but it shut down the Panthers' running game and made Carolina one-dimensional.
New York played a lot of two-deep, man-under coverage schemes that allowed it to double cover Panthers receiver Steve Smith and force Weinke to throw into coverage. Carolina third receiver Drew Carter (eight catches, 144 yards) benefited from the attention the Giants gave Steve Smith.
The Giants relied on the run with Tiki Barber (112 yards rushing), giving Eli Manning a shot to go down the field off play action to his playmakers, Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burress. Manning looked more like the quarterback at the beginning of the season. He tossed three TD passes and was intercepted once.
Manning threw three touchdown passes and Barber ran for 112
yards as the Giants snapped a four-game losing streak with a 27-13
win over the banged-up Panthers on Sunday.
The Giants (7-6) remained tied with Philadelphia and Atlanta for
the NFC wild-card lead. The Panthers (6-7) lost their third
straight and will lose tiebreakers to the Eagles and Giants.
Weinke, making his first start in more than four years in place
of the injured Jake Delhomme, threw for a team-record 423 yards,
but had three second-half interceptions. He also was undone by
drops and a nonexistent running game.
While most of the attention was on Delhomme's sprained right
thumb that forced him to miss his first game in four seasons, the
Panthers' injury-plagued defense proved to be no match for the
The win also took some pressure off embattled coach Tom
Coughlin, who had come under fire after a series of late-game
collapses and player sniping.
"This not just a relief for him, it's a relief for all of us,"
Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce said. "If anything bad happens to
the head man, it runs down to us. I think the whole organization
feels a lot better."
Barber went over 10,000 career yards rushing in the second
quarter on the way to his fifth 100-yard game of the season.
Manning had his second solid outing in a row, throwing a 2-yard
touchdown pass to David Tyree midway through the third quarter to
make it 27-10.
"Eli did a great job, directing us and leading us out there,"
Barber said. "We've put a lot into it. Obviously, things swirling
around would suggest otherwise. We've been energetic. We've been
having a good time despite what the perception is."
Tyree's touchdown was set up after the first of Gibril Wilson's
two interceptions of Weinke. The 34-year-old former Heisman Trophy
winner, who hasn't been a full-time starter since Carolina's 1-15
season in 2001, completed 34 of 61 passes, but struggled with his
accuracy in the second half.
Kevin Dockery picked off Weinke in the fourth quarter, sending
most of the crowd home.
Weinke, who had thrown 13 passes in the past four seasons, had
at least six different players drop passes. He surpassed Steve
Beuerlein's record of 373 yards passing against Green Bay in 1999,
but it didn't stop the downward spiral of Carolina's once promising
both missed the game with hamstring injuries. Rookie Richard
Marshall and Christian Morton started in their place, but Morton
pulled up with a hamstring injury five minutes into the game while
playing on special teams and didn't return.
That forced Dion Byrum, an undrafted rookie signed last month
off Tampa Bay's practice squad, to work with the first team. Safety
Mike Minter was the third cornerback on passing downs.
Plaxico Burress took advantage, beating Marshall on a 45-yard
pass and Byrum for a 28-yard TD that made it 10-0 in the second
"I got caught out of position," Byrum said. "I was trying to
get the call from my safety on what coverage we were supposed to be
in and by that time they had snapped the ball, and Plaxico being
6-5 with that long stride, he had already gained those eight or
nine yards on me."
Weinke got going in the second quarter, throwing a perfect pass
to the outside shoulder of Drew Carter, who hauled it in over
Dockery for a 36-yard touchdown that cut the Giants' lead to 10-7.
Carter, who had eight catches for a career-high 144 yards, made
a diving catch for a 38-yard gain and Weinke scrambled for 13 yards
on the next possession, leading to John Kasay's tying 37-yard field
But Manning's 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey in the
final minute of the first half gave the Giants the lead for good at
DeShaun Foster returned from an elbow injury that sidelined him
for two games, but the Panthers managed only 45 yards rushing.
"Our mindset was to establish the run and take our shots when
they were there," Weinke said. "We had to play catch up. It's
hard to be successful in the NFL when you are one dimensional and
the pressure was on us to make plays down the field."
Steve Smith was held to five catches for 67 yards as Delhomme
looked on from the sideline wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
Delhomme hadn't missed a game since taking over as Carolina's
No. 1 quarterback at halftime of the 2003 season-opener.
The Giants improved to 2-11 in the past three seasons
when defensive end Michael Strahan doesn't play. Strahan missed his
fifth straight game with a right foot injury. ... With Gamble out,
Steve Smith returned three punts for a 3.7 average. ... Carolina TE
Kris Mangum suffered an injured hip in the fourth quarter and did
- Terry McAulay