Head coach Brian Daboll of the New York Giants looks...

Head coach Brian Daboll of the New York Giants looks on against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sep. 18, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

OFFENSE: D

Scoring one touchdown and relying on a pair of 50-yard-plus field goals is not exactly a plan for sustained success, but the Giants did enough to make it work. They converted only six of 18 third downs with some well-timed victories there, including a 15-yard pass to Richie James that jump-started the TD drive and an 11-yard run by Daniel Jones to seal the win. Saquon Barkley wasn’t as prodigious as he was in the opener, rushing for 72 yards on 21 carries with three catches for another 16. Get used to that, Giants. Nobody is going to let Barkley beat them singlehandedly the way he did against the Titans.

DEFENSE: B

Xavier McKinney covered Christian McCaffrey in the passing game, and aside from a 49-yard run, the Giants kept the Panthers running back mostly bottled up. Carolina converted only 2 of 12 third downs. The defense had a big takeaway in the first quarter when Darnay Holmes forced a fumble. Playing without Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari is a handicap, but the Giants were able to manufacture some pressure and recorded two sacks on Baker Mayfield, including a key fourth-quarter one by Julian Love that ended what turned out to be Carolina’s last possession.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

Graham Gano was the most reliable player on the team fhe past two seasons, and thus far, he’s retained that mantle. His field goals of 51 and 56 yards in the fourth quarter each gave the Giants a lead, the longer and latter of them providing the final margin of victory. But it wasn’t just the kicking that was strong. Carter Coughlin forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and the ball was recovered by Dane Belton (on his first NFL play!) to give the Giants the first of two first-quarter takeaways. The Giants didn’t return any kicks; all of the punts were fair caught and all the kickoffs to them were touchbacks.

COACHING: A

Brian Daboll continues to trust his players and they keep responding, be it high-profile ones such as Gano and Jones or lesser-known ones such as Gary Brightwell, who had a key run for a fourth-down conversion. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka will have to figure out a way to get teams out of the box as they key on Barkley for the time being. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale keeps the pressure coming and found good uses for his safeties playing more linebacker-type roles; McKinney batted down two passes on blitzes and Love had that key sack.

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