The Giants were without their starting running back (Ahmad Bradshaw), so journeyman Andre Brown just ran the ball down the Panthers' throats for 113 yards and two scores. New York was without its No. 1 wide receiver (Hakeem Nicks), so Ramses Barden dusted the cobwebs off his uniform before exploding for nine receptions. The Giants were without a starting tackle (David Diehl), and Eli Manning was barely touched all night.
Brown, for instance, has been cut eight times in his NFL career by five different teams, including the Giants (they drafted him in 2009). He was a revelation in this game, showing great vision, patience and power while darting through the soft Panthers defense. He had more yards in the first half than in his entire career up to that point.
Barden is a lanky third-round draft pick who had fewer than 200 career receiving yards entering Thursday night. He had 138 yards in this game alone, continually beating man coverage over the middle.