(Long Island, N.Y.) Everything was in place for one of those letdown games. The New York Giants were coming off a comeback win at home and had to go on the road four days later to face the rebuilding Carolina Panthers. They also had a number of key players sitting this one out with injuries and to top it off, their next game is against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
This one had trap game written all over it.
But looking ahead is not a characteristic of a Tom Coughlin coached team and the veterans on this club would also have none of that. “I just said that everyone needs to step up and do their assignments,” Eli Manning said following the 36-7 victory. “I had total confidence.”
Two players that did not let the Giants quarterback down were running back Andre Brown and wide receiver Ramses Barden, who started in place of Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks, respectively.
“I just went out there and tried to be the best I can be,” said Brown, who had 113 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the state he calls home. Barden (nine catches for 138 yards and a 15.3 average) called it a “complete team victory.”
When Bradshaw went down with an injured neck last week against Tampa Bay, Brown stepped in and gained 71 yards on the ground. So it was no secret as to who was going to get the bulk of the workload out of the backfield. But this is a player who had a career total of minus one yard prior to the Bucs game. Not exactly a comfort zone, but the much-traveled North Carolina State product has seemed to find a home.
Barden was a third round pick by the Giants back in 2009 but has barely made his presence known before Thursday night. The 26-year-old had 16 career receptions coming into the game, so he was probably not the main target during film sessions for the Panthers’ secondary earlier in the week. But having capable second stringers is a key ingredient in becoming a winning team in a sport such as football, where you expect first team players to miss time every year.
“Injuries are going to happen, but everywhere you look from the d-line to the receivers to the backs, there’s so much depth and it’s just a matter of time before these guys get those opportunities and they get to showcase their talents,” added Barden.
Now at 2-1 and three extra days to get rested and healthy for the trip down the turnpike to Philadelphia, the Giants are right there and keeping pace in the much-improved NFC East. The Eagles are 2-0 and Dallas and Washington are both 1-1 (at press time). So it may take a few more weeks until the cream rises to the top and the also-rans begin to fade.
Winning games such as the one versus Carolina may go a long way once December rolls around. It would have been an easy excuse to let Cam Newton shine in his first prime time affair in the league, but the Giants came out of the gate strong and took a 20-0 lead at the half. It was smooth sailing from there.
The only trap in the game was the one the Giants set for the opponent, not themselves.