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Comeback Bid Falls Short as Giants Fall to Undefeated Panthers

Hey everyone, guess what? The Giants lost late again!

This one had a bit of a different feel, though. Instead of playing the better game for 58 minutes and then collapsing in epic fashion, the Giants erased a 35-7 deficit in just over a quarter and found themselves tied with the 13-0 Carolina Panthers with under two minutes to play.

Unfortunately, 1:46 was plenty of time for the heavy MVP favorite Cam Newton to lead the Panthers down the field for a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Newton made it look easy on the final drive, completely flipping the script after the Panthers offense went dormant for a few drives. The Giants’ pass rush enjoyed a strong day, but was nowhere to be found as Newton ran and threw his way down the field to set up Graham Gano, who nailed the 43-yard field goal, making up for having one blocked earlier in the game.

Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Panthers CB Josh Norman went at it consistently on Sunday (Photo: AP).

Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Panthers CB Josh Norman went at it consistently on Sunday (Photo: AP).

If this kind of loss happened in September or October of a normal season that wasn’t defined by soul-crushing late losses, this wouldn’t have been a big deal.

Instead, it’s another gut punch in a season full of them. This is the sixth game the Giants have lost after leading or tied with under two minutes remaining. And while it was still a better-played game than, say, the late losses to the Cowboys, Falcons or Jets, the loss to the Panthers have made it hard to picture the Giants atop the NFC East by season’s end.

While the Eagles’ loss to the Cardinals on Sunday night means Big Blue and Philly are tied at 6-8, the Redskins were victorious against the Bills on Sunday giving them a one-game lead at 7-7. Washington and Philly face off next week, meaning both teams control their own destiny. The Giants do not.

The Panthers game, like many this season, was indicative of everything the Giants are this season: a solid team with talent that can’t play a full 60 minutes. Besides allowing the game-winning drive as time expired, the Giants ended Sunday’s game trending upward, fighting back from a seemingly impossible deficit. But that won’t matter if the Giants are eliminated from playoff contention.

All they can do now is focus on the weeks ahead and hope they get the help necessary to sneak into the playoffs. And that won’t be easy on the road against a solid Vikings team, and then back home for a game with the Eagles, who have had the Giants’ number in recent years.

Offensive Game Ball: Rashad Jennings

Jennings followed up a strong Monday night performance in Miami with another solid game against Carolina. It took until the final quarter of the season, but the Giants’ running game is beginning to find its footing. Jennings is now the clear lead back, with Shane Vereen working on passing downs. On Sunday, Jennings led the way with 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Jennings should continue to dominate carries against Minnesota next Sunday night.

Defensive Game Ball: Robert Ayers
The Giants’ pass rush had its best game in recent memory, and Ayers led the way with six tackles, 1.5 sacks and three QB hits. While Jason Pierre-Paul, club and all, is the best pass rusher on the Giants, Ayers has quietly been a consistent presence off the edge when he’s been able to stay on the field.

The Goat: Odell Beckham Jr.

In a matter of three hours, Beckham went from one of the most likeable, well-respected players in football to perhaps the most despised. The way he behaved on Sunday is simply unacceptable. We all knew Beckham vs. Norman was the matchup to watch on Sunday, but to say things got chippy is a vast understatement. The two went at it the whole game, and Beckham let the frustration get to him as he was flagged for three personal fouls, fought with Norman several times, and laid into him with a vicious, deliberate helmet-to-helmet hit. Beckham did beat Norman on the Giants’ game-tying touchdown, but that’s not the story here. Beckham was out of control, and his short temper continues to be a huge issue. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him fined and/or suspended for his actions on Sunday.

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