There is speculation that linebacker Chase Blackburn was an integral part of the Panthers’ 38-0 win over his former team by providing detailed notes and tips on facing the Giants. Mathias Kiwanuka gave that theory some credence, but ultimately said it was not Blackburn who beat the Giants.
“That definitely contributed,” Kiwanuka said on ESPN Radio in New York. “I have to give Chase a lot of credit. I played with him for seven years and I saw that guy take diligent notes on everything. He knew calls not just for our team but for every team because he studied so hard. You have to give credit where it’s due, he definitely did a good job of analyzing us as a team.
“But,” Kiwanuka said, “you can’t just point to that and say that’s the reason. You can overcome something like that with a little more effort or a little more aggressiveness. We’ll give him a little credit for knowing his stuff and understanding it, but it comes down to us. I feel like even if a team knows exactly what you’re going to run, that person still has to line up and beat you. If we’re willing to go the extra step and we’re willing to fight more, it’s not going to matter.”
Blackburn, who hadn’t played a defensive snap in the first two weeks of the season, was suddenly on the field for 17 of them against the Giants. Coincidence? And after the game he told the Charlotte Observer that he felt his insight into the opponent helped.
“I had an idea of what they run and what they like to do in situations,” Blackburn said. “We had a great game plan going in. I’ve been sharing all the information all week. Guys, all of us, linebackers were out there knowing what to do; (defensive backs) knew what kind of routes they were going to get off the route combinations.
“It makes for a big difference when you can play the game at that speed. We were able to play fast because we were aware of what they were going to do.”
Whether that accounted for a 38-point differential is doubtful. But it clearly gave the Panthers at least a bit of an advantage, one of the many the Giants were not able to overcome.