By Paul Schwartz
Grading the Giants’ 19-16 win over the Panthers on Sunday:
If the most important stat for a quarterback is wins and losses, Daniel Jones (22 of 34, 176 yards, 1 TD) is making the grade. He struggled early but came up with big throws and especially big runs down the stretch. His 11-yard scramble basically sealed the deal. Panthers were determined to stop Saquon Barkley (21-72) but he stuck with it and got 69 of his yards in the second half. Rookie TE Daniel Bellinger was determined to get into the end zone on his 16-yard TD. C Jon Feliciano had a holding penalty and rookie LG Josh Ezeudu had a false start. Receiver rotation was again in flux and Kadarius Toney (2 receptions, 0 yards) cannot get untracked. Anyone seen Kenny Golladay? David Sills’ 24-yard reception led to a field goal. Only 265 total yards on 70 snaps.
First order of business was containing Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 102 yards because one of his rushes went for 49 yards. In the passing game, McCaffrey was limited (4-26) by the solid work of Xavier McKinney. The top two pass rushers remain out but Baker Mayfield (14 of 29, 145, 1 TD) rarely looked comfortable, with Oshane Ximines applying plenty of pressure. Huge sack on a blitz by Julian Love to force a punt; Panthers never got the ball back. Rookie CB Cor’Dale Flott gave up a TD to DJ Moore but otherwise held up and Adoree’ Jackson did fine work on Robbie Anderson (3-32). CB Darnay Holmes forced a fumble on Anderson that was recovered by Jackson. Loss of Leonard Williams (knee) is a killer.
What else can be said about Graham Gano? The guy is great. He went 4-for-4 on field goals and the last two were from 51 and 56 yards. What a weapon. Good hit by Carter Coughlin forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and rookie Dane Belton made the recovery on his first NFL snap. Jamie Gillen’s first punt sailed 67 yards and he averaged 50.6 yards on his five punts. A line drive kickoff allowed Chuba Hubbard to get 37 yards on a return.
Winning close games is always a reflection of the head coach. So far, the view of Brian Daboll is pretty darn good. He continued his aggressive tendencies, going for it on fourth-and-1 on the Carolina 31-yard line. Wink Martindale mixed and matched and turned up the pressure late in the game, making Mayfield escape the pocket. Innovative play call by Mike Kafka, giving the ball to upback Gary Brightwell on key third-and-1 for a gain of 14 yards.