Starting for the first time in his career in place of injured WR Hakeen Nicks, Ramses Barden had 138 yards on nine catches in the Giants' win over the Panthers. (Getty Images)

The New York Giants were short-handed for Thursday’s road game against the Carolina Panthers, but it was tough to miss the injured starters.

Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who had 199 receiving yards last Sunday, was inactive with a foot injury. Starting for the first time in his four-year NFL career, Ramses Barden had more yards in the first half (107) than he’d registered in any previous season.

The Giants also didn’t dress running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who was suffering from a neck injury. Andre Brown, who had almost as many releases (five) as games played (six), got the start and rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

The Giants dominated the game from the outset, outgaining the Panthers by 100 yards in the first quarter and getting 303 yards by halftime to jump out to a 20-0 lead. The defense intercepted Cam Newton three times and forced him into a career-low 40.6 passer rating. The Giants also recovered two special teams fumbles.

When the game turned: On Giants RB Andre Brown’s second carry of the game, he was met by LB Jon Beason after a 2-yard gain. Brown bounced off of Beason’s tackle attempt and rumbled another 29 yards to the Panthers' 22. It was the first of several missed tackles and defensive assignments for the Panthers, and three plays later, the Giants scored their first touchdown.

Highlight moments: On the first play of the second quarter, Eli Manning threw deep to WR Ramses Barden, who pulled in the 20-yard pass over Josh Norman. Manning targeted the Panthers rookie cornerback all night, and veteran Antwan Applewhite had to talk to a flustered Norman between plays later in the drive to calm him down. Norman had six tackles in the first quarter and nine by the half.

With 9:49 left in the first half and Carolina trailing 17-0, DE Osi Umenyiora blew past LT Jordan Gross to sack Newton on third down. Newton was harassed by the Giants defensive line much of the night. Even though the Panthers were missing RT Byron Bell, it was the left side and up the middle that caused them the most problems.  

Rookie KR Joe Adams took the second-half kickoff out of the end zone and was stripped of the ball as he crossed the 20-yard line. Spencer Paysinger knocked the ball loose and recovered it for the Giants, and any hope of a Carolina rally was quelled.

Top-shelf performances: Giants WR Ramses Barden -- 138 yards on nine catches. He caught every ball thrown at him in the first half and nine of 10 on the game.

Giants QB Eli Manning -- 27 of 35 passing for 288 yards.  

Panthers TE Greg Olsen -- Seven catches for 98 yards.

What they said about the Giants fast start:

  • Barden -- “We’ve been trying to get the ball rolling and get in a rhythm earlier. We know we can finish, but we wanted to test ourselves and make sure we can start and maintain.”
  • Panthers OT Jordan Gross -- “It just got ugly fast. Probably the exact opposite of what I thought was going to happen. I though we were going to play with a lot of energy and come out quick.”
  • Panthers DE Greg Hardy -- “Slow start. Slow middle. Slow finish. We just weren’t ourselves today.”
  • Giants QB Eli Manning -- "We wanted to get off to a fast start. That’s something we haven’t been good at the past few years. We came out and got a touchdown and set the tempo for the game.”

What they said about Barden and Brown’s performance replacing injured starters:

  • Giants coach Tom Coughlin -- “They stepped up and saw it as a great opportunity that they’ve been working for. They’ve been waiting for this type of chance, and they got it.”
  • Manning -- “I told them before the game, everybody’s going to step up and do their assignments. I have total confidence in you.”
  • Barden -- “It shows we’ve got a great scouting department. This is the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
  • Brown -- “Never give up. I learned that in college (at NC State). Jim Valvano.”

What they said about the Giants defensive line pressuring Newton:

  • Giants DE Justin Tuck -- “We set a huge tone by hitting him. Coming in, the defense wanted to take away at least that one part of the read option. The way we did that was to hit him and take him out of his rhythm.”
  • Coughlin – “We got in a couple licks on him when he kept the ball. You’ve seen what he can do when he has time to throw.”

What they said about the Panthers overall performance:

  • Rivera -- “When we get slapped in the face, we need to be ready to punch back.”
  • Panthers WR Steve Smith -- “Disgusting. We’ve got to take all the plays from that game, put them in the garbage can and burn it.”
  • Newton -- “Who wants to support that embarrassment? If I were a fan of the Panthers, I’d be holding my head down in shame at the product out there today.”

Numbers you should know:  

The Giants controlled the ball for 9:48 of the first quarter and 19:25 of the first half.

The farthest the Panthers advanced the ball in the first half was the Giants 44-yard line, and they didn’t reach the red zone until midway through the third quarter.

Injury update: Giants LB Keith Rivers left the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.  Cornerback Corey Webster went to the locker room to get X-rays of his hand, but he returned to the game before halftime. Cornerback Jayron Hosley hurt his hamstring and didn’t return for the Giants. Safety Antrel Rolle collided with a cameraman in the fourth quarter and went to the locker room for X-rays on his knee, which were negative. He has a cut and a bruise. Panthers QB Cam Newton hurt a finger on his right hand diving for a touchdown in the third quarter, but he didn’t miss any offensive snaps. DE Antwan Applewhite was carted off late in the game with an undisclosed injury.

Going forward: The Giants look to even their NFC East divisional record with a trip to Philadelphia for the Sunday night game. The Panthers travel to Atlanta to face the NFC South rival Falcons.


For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Carolina Panthers from blogger Shawn Krest, follow@CBSPanthers.