EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Matt Moore
and the Carolina Panthers turned the New York Giants' farewell to
Giants Stadium into one of their ugliest moments in franchise history.
Playing in front of Lawrence Taylor –
possibly their greatest player – and knowing they still had a shot at a
fifth straight playoff berth, the Giants (8-7) embarrassed themselves
against the Panthers, a team with nothing at stake. Moore threw three
touchdown passes, Jonathan Stewart rushed for a career-best 209 yards
and the Panthers (7-8) shredded New York's defense with scores on six
of their first seven possessions in a 41-9 victory before a disgusted
final sellout crowd Sunday.
The Giants' postseason chances are
microscopic. After stating the season 5-0, New York would have to beat
Minnesota next week and hope Dallas lost its final two games, starting
on Sunday night against Washington.
Can you say wishful thinking? Giants
fans are skeptical: After booing their defense most of the day, many
left the stadium well before the game ended.
Stewart ran for a 29-yard touchdown
and set up another score by Brad Hoover with a long run. The Panthers
forced three turnovers in their third win in four games for coach John
Fox, whose future with the team remains cloudy.
Eli Manning threw a 2-yard touchdown
pass to Steve Smith and Lawrence Tynes kicked a 40-yard field goal for
the Giants, who didn't score until Carolina built a 31-0 lead early in
the third quarter. Manning finished 29 for 43 for for 296 yards and two
Coming off a 45-12 throttling of the
Redskins on Monday night, the Giants seemed ready to shed their
late-season slump and make a final run to the postseason.
Their opening drive seemed to
reaffirm that. Manning methodically drove New York downfield and
appeared to cap an 80-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to the
Giants' Steve Smith.
However, the play was called back by
a holding penalty against fullback Madison Hedgecock and the drive
eventually ended when Mario Manningham fumbled on third down at the
Everything after that was all Carolina.
Moore, who was 15 of 20 for 171
yards in his seventh career start, led the Panthers on a 15-play drive
before settling for a 38-yard field goal by John Kasay.
Carolina scored on drives of 63, 51
and 29 yards on its next three possession, the last set up by Richard
The sloppy Giants, who missed
tackles all game, didn't get a hand on Stewart on his cutback touchdown
run that stretched the lead to 10-0.
Moore extended the lead to 17-0 with
a 22-yard sideline go pattern to Muhsin Muhammad, and encouraged more
boos from the crowd with a 2-yard TD toss to wide-open tight end Jeff
King minutes later.
Moore found Carolina's Steve Smith
for a 27-yard TD on the opening possession of the third quarter, but
Smith hurt his left arm and had to leave.
Carolina, which rolled up 416 yards
in total offense, also got a 27-yard field goal from Kasay and a 1-yard
touchdown run by Hoover, a score set up by a 52-yard run by Stewart.