By Paul Dottino
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It’s nearly impossibile to find the appropriate words to describe the Giants’ 38-35 loss to the Carolina Panthers — or the team’s collection of six dramatic, heartbreaking defeats this season, for that matter.
There are so many elements to consider — some negative, some positive and some that simply are inexplicable.
* Odell Beckham Jr. drops an early sure-thing touchdown pass and winds up spending the day involved in chippy play, yet catches the tying 14-yard scoring strike with 1:46 left.
* Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie drops a sure-thing pick-6 interception, but blocks a field goal as part of the largest second-half comeback (28 points) in team history.
* Rashad Jennings commits a second-quarter turnover that leads to a Panthers’ TD, but then rumbles for a 38-yard TD in the fourth quarter to help the rally.
* The Giants prevent Carolina from scoring on four straight possessions on their way to tying the game late, only to watch the Panthers end the day with an eight-play, 49-yard scoring drive capped with Graham Gano’s 43-yard field goal.
OK, so it is what it is: The Giants (6-8) need to beat the Vikings and Eagles, and the Redskins must lose to the Eagles and Cowboys, for the Big Blue to make the playoffs. But that’s for another day.
Offense — QB Eli Manning. Yes, he was amazing yet again as he directed the Giants to 28 consecutive points in less than 15 minutes. Manning lofted a perfect fourth-down pass to Beckham in the left corner of the end zone to tie the game at 35. He was 19-for-27 for 161 and three TDs in the second half. And how can we forget that he threw that perfect long ball that Beckham dropped on the fourth snap of the game? Manning fniished 29-of-46 for 245 with four TDs. He tossed one interception under heavy pressure — WR Hakeem Nicks fell in the end zone and CB Charles Tillman picked it off with 7:33 to go, but the Giants’ Kerry Wynn recovered a fumble two snaps later and then Manning quickly hit RB Shane Vereen with a TD pass to make it 35-28 with 5:27 left.
Defense — DEs Kerry Wynn and Robert Ayers. Wynn recovered QB Cam Newton’s fumble as a key part of the rally. Ayers again was relentless with his effort and finished with six tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and three QB hits.
Special teams — CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. The veteran dashed around the left side of the Carolina line and blocked Gano’s 34-yard FG attempt with 9:00 to play and the Giants down, 35-21.
Offense — WR Odell Beckham Jr. Nobody wants to take away his energy, but Beckham has to find a way to smooth out his edges. His game-long flareups with the Panthers secondary resulted in three personal foul penalties — and could have gotten him tossed. Coach Tom Coughlin said afterward that he considered pulling out the receiver for his own safety. Surely, CBs Josh Norman and Cortland Finnegan did their best to keep Beckham’s fuse burning and that, combined with the receiver’s apparent frustration over the first first-half shutout of his career, made for an ugly situation.
Defense — Everyone. It’s useless to point any fingers here, considering Newton threw five TD passes and ran eight times for 100 yards. And it’s not so much the scoring passes because the Giants knew Newton’s legs needed to be the focus with injured RB Jonathan Stewart (foot) out. Think about this: Newton’s 47-yard scramble to the Giants’ 3 in the first quarter was the longest play of the game and Carolina RBs combined for just 71 yards on 21 carries.
Special teams — LS Danny Aiken. He took what appeared to be a very poor angle and allowed PR Ted Ginn to race up the left sideline for 36 yards to the Giants’ 37, setting up a TD drive that left Big Blue behind, 35-7, midway into the third quarter.
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