The first seven minutes looked pretty good for the Giants. What happened?
A promising drive ended up with a touchdown taken off the board by a holding penalty against Madison Hedgecock, then a fumble by Mario Manningham. "He hit my arm, he stripped me," Manningham said of the play by Jon Beason that dislodged the ball after a 16-yard reception on third-and-14 from the 30.
Would the game have turned out differently had the Giants been able to score there?
Probably. But Manningham didn't think so. "I've seen worse than that," he said. "I've seen us get a couple of turnovers and still win the game." Manningham did say the Giants lost because of "mistakes" and "us not executing." But as for his own fumble, he didn't think it was a factor in the final result. "We didn't play a perfect game," he said, "so it's hard to say."
How about the holding penalty that negated the 26-yard TD pass to Steve Smith?
That was Hedgecock picking up Na'il Diggs on a blitz up the middle, but instead of just blocking him, Hedgecock picked him up and threw him to the ground. "I hip-tossed him," Hedgecock said. "It was just the heat of the moment, but it shouldn't have happened." Tom Coughlin agreed wholeheartedly. "A fundamental mistake," Coughlin said. "You hear it a thousand times: If you throw the defender to the ground, they are going to call holding."
Who started at cornerback for the Giants?
Kevin Dockery, and the Panthers knew it. With starters Corey Webster and Aaron Ross injured, Carolina targeted him often, and he did not rise to the occasion. Dockery missed several tackles, most notably a whiff on Steve Smith, who caught an 11-yard pass on third-and-6 to extend a second-quarter touchdown drive. Dockery also was in coverage when Muhsin Muhammad caught a 27-yard pass on second-and-15 on a first-quarter drive that ended in a field goal. "We didn't do a good job of tackling," Dockery said.
Was Dockery alone?
No. The Giants tackled poorly as a team. On his 52-yard run in the fourth quarter, Stewart broke a tackle by Chris Canty near the line of scrimmage, spun out of a tackle by Terrell Thomas at the 35 and finally was brought down by Michael Boley at the 1. It was indicative of the day the defense had.
Did the Giants watch last night's game between the Cowboys and Redskins?
Some probably did, but Justin Tuck said he would not. "I've had enough football for today," he said, even though the Giants' playoff hopes rode on the outcome of that game. Tuck said he'd just wake up this morning and see how things turned out.