NY GIANTS 36, PANTHERS 7
CHARLOTTE — In the days before the Giants’ final roster cuts at the end of training camp, Andre Brown and Ramses Barden appeared to share a place on the roster bubble.
It’s a good thing for the Giants their bubble never burst.
If it had, the world would’ve missed the breakthrough performances of Brown and Barden on Thursday night, as they led the badly depleted Giants to a stunningly thorough 36-7 win over the Carolina Panthers. Brown, who has been cut seven times by five teams in the last three years, filled in for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw by rushing 20 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Barden replaced the injured Hakeem Nicks by catching nine passes for 138 yards.
“Outstanding,” Tom Coughlin said. “They stepped up. They saw it as a great opportunity. They’ve been looking for this type of opportunity.”
Despite heading into this game without Bradshaw, Nicks, receiver Domenik Hixon and right tackle David Diehl, the Giants (2-1) seemed sure their replacements would seize their
big chance. In the hotel before the game, Eli Manning even spoke to his teammates on offense and told them, “We have playmakers here.”
As if to prove it, the Super Bowl MVP came out firing — hitting four different targets for passes on the opening drive alone. He ended up completing 27 of 35 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown on a night when the Panthers’ defense seemed intent on taking away Victor Cruz (6 catches, 42 yards).
That was just fine with Barden, the 6-6 former third-round pick out of Division III Cal Poly who had just 15 catches in his first three NFL seasons. Then suddenly he got an opportunity he wasn’t sure would ever come.