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Game Report Card: Cam Newton’s Prime-time Debut Falls Flat In Panthers’ 36-7 Loss To Giants

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Cam Newton (photo credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Cam Newton (photo credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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Ted Fleming

Had the score been closer, it could have been talked about as a battle of quarterbacks and champions as Eli Manning has a pair of Super Bowls on his résumé while Cam Newton boasts of a Heisman Trophy and a BCS title. It failed to live up to that billing, or any other billing for that matter.

NFL rules mandate a game must last at least 60-minutes. In other words, one team cannot simply pick up their ball and go home after half of it because they’re getting their lunch handed to them on national television.

The New York Football Giants limped into a packed Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte and used an offense replete with second–and in some cases third–string players to hang a pair of touchdowns and two field goals on the hosting Panthers after the first 30 minutes. They would add a gift three-pointer to open the third quarter before Carolina put anything on the board.

What it all adds up to is a Panthers’ 36-7 loss and 10 days to lick their wounds before they have to face a third divisional rival in Week Four on September 30.

PANTHERS’ OFFENSE: GRADE D-
This should have been an “F” and a “D” is still too high, so this grade lands somewhere in the middle because Cam Newton did a few things right in the second half. Well, one thing. He engineered a solid first-possession touchdown to open the third quarter.

Newton seemed perplexed with the Giants’ defense and had a number of balls batted down adding to his woes. With running back Jonathan Stewart missing the game because of a toe problem and a nagging ankle injury, the burden fell to DeAngelo Williams and halfback Mike Tolbert. Other than a 16-yard burst by Williams in the Panthers only score of the third, the ground game was negligible.

You do not win many games when you have a 3.0 average – 20 rushes for 60 yards – but the same applies when your quarterback throws three interceptions unless you can imitate Eli Manning last Sunday.

To be fair, Cam Newton had to throw the ball more than he wanted; not so much because Carolina failed to establish any kind of ground game, but because the score got lopsided so early. But it still didn’t excuse him from forcing the ball many times that led to one interception after another.

Not that it would have changed the outcome, but Newton had a chance to put up another seven points with about six minutes left in the contest, and almost threw a pick-six when Stevie Brown grabbed his pass one-yard deep into the end zone and was not brought down until the Giants 43.

PANTHERS’ DEFENSE:  GRADE F
Eli Manning only took what the Panthers’ defense gave him. Sadly, it was almost everything. Short passes, intermediate passes, long passes–it didn’t matter. Receivers seemed to be running routes in areas where there were the only Carolina jerseys around were on the sideline. How about New York’s running game? The holes in the Panthers’ line appeared as big as the Holland Tunnel.

To borrow the immortal words of cartoon character Charlie Brown: “Good grief.”

The same defense that made quite an impression on a potent Saints’ offense on Sunday didn’t even show up four days later. It was miserable beyond belief.

Manning had a backward approach to start the game, throwing twice before handing off for the first time. Two players, in for injured players, would establish career highs in the first half alone, running back Andre Brown and wide receiver Ramses Barden, each replacing an injured starter.

Brown launched himself into the spotlight taking over for Ahmad Bradshaw with 13 carries for 96 yards while Barden, listed third on the depth chart behind Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon, reeled in six passes for 107. That helped Big Blue to an easy 20-0 lead at the half.

It didn’t get any better in the second half and Manning finished with 288 yards before turning the game over to his backup David Carr. By the final gun the Giants had racked up 405 total yards

SPECIAL TEAMS: GRADE F
Last and certainly not least is returner Joe Adams, who fumbled twice.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Panthers news, see CBS Sports Charlotte.

Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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