Not all of what Newton said after getting smoked was inaccurate. The Giants do have "elite defensive linemen," the Panthers do have "good players on offense," and Carolina "didn't get the job done." Most accurately of all, many Panthers fans probably did hold their head down in shame following the Giants' prime-time trouncing, as Newton suggested they should.
But one of Newton's postgame comments might have struck a chord with some Giants fans, if not the players themselves.
"It was nothing they did, it was all on us," a visibly distraught Newton said after getting pummeled.
It's sort of a throwaway comment, meant to really highlight how poorly the Panthers played. But that doesn't make it any less crazy in nature.
Sure, the Panthers looked like garbage. Gross, smelly, stinky, rotten garbage. Newton chucked three picks, Joe Adams lost two fumbles, the offensive line consistently opened the floodgates, and the team just looked unprepared overall for the big Thursday night stage. Nothing emphasized the awfulness more than when Derek Anderson trotted his forgotten keister out onto the field in the fourth quarter.
But as intolerable as Carolina's odor was for the entire night, New York comes away from the game smelling like roses, even if Newton fails to recognize it. The Giants' offense didn't skip a beat with Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon sidelined because Andre Brown, Ramses Barden and Martellus Bennett were there to pick up the slack in what was a very efficient and methodical effort by Kevin Gilbride's group. Even more impressive was how fluid the offense looked right from the get-go, which is a stark contrast from the Giants' early Week 2 struggles against the Buccaneers.
Coming away from the game, it's easy to either feel really bad about the direction in which the Panthers are headed or really good about the direction in which the Giants are headed — even if the G-Men still face some injury concerns. But one thing that's apparent is that the Giants will still have their fair share of skeptics.
The Giants had 18-1 odds in the offseason to win the Super Bowl, and those odds have since fluctuated, sitting at 25-1 after Week 1 and 22-1 after Week 2. Nevertheless, it's obvious that they're regarded by many (Newton likely included) as being on that second tier of Super Bowl contenders. In fact, 10 teams — including the Broncos, Bears and Falcons — had better Super Bowl odds than the Giants entering Week 3.
Gambling aside, there just seems to be this overall sense that the Giants are a very good football team, yet not elite enough to be mentioned alongside the 49ers, Packers, Patriots and Ravens. And you know what? That's not exactly an unfamiliar position for Tom Coughlin's bunch.
The Giants' recent Super Bowl victories in 2007 and 2011 each involved getting hot at the right time, and they could eventually need a similar surge to get back to the big game this season. What we saw on Thursday, though, showed that while the Giants are still one of the most unpredictable teams in the NFL, they're also one of the most dangerous.
"[The Giants] didn't beat us, we beat ourselves," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews famously said of Green Bay's playoff loss to New York last season. That statement is eerily similar to the sentiments muttered by Newton on Thursday.
Of course, none of the doubt surrounding the Giants really matters to the players in that locker room, as long as the end result stays the same. If the G-Men maintain the poise they showed on Thursday, there's no reason to believe it can't be.
The biggest problem for the rest of the league this time around is that Eli and Co. seem to be hitting their stride early, even if Cam Newton can't quite wrap his head around it.
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