News

Giants versus Panthers a clash of desperate teams

Giants versus Panthers a clash of desperate teams

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton jogs off the field after being defeated by the Buffalo Bills in their NFL football game in Orchard Park, New York Sept. 15, 2013. Photo: Reuters/REUTERS/Don Heupel

By Larry Fine

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) – Two teams with high aspirations and time running out on them collide on Sunday when the New York Giants visit the Carolina Panthers.

The error-plagued Giants and hard-luck Panthers have each started the National Football League’s (NFL) 2013 campaign 0-2, attaching a sudden sense of urgency to the outcome of their Week Three clash.

“We know what the mistakes are and the corrections we need to make to get better,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who has thrown an NFL-worst seven interceptions, said after Wednesday’s practice.

“There is still a positive energy around this team and we feel we can straighten it out and start playing real good football real soon.”

His Carolina counterpart sounded a similar note of optimism.

“We’re not going to dwell on the negatives,” Cam Newton told reporters in a conference call Wednesday. “I feel our team is right on the brink. With just a couple more plays in the games, it’s easy for us to be 2-0.”

All is not yet lost despite the odds against them.

Since the NFL expanded its playoff format to 12 teams in 1990, only 22 of the 276 teams that started a season 0-2 have reached the playoffs.

There have been some notable exceptions, including the 2007 Giants, who recovered from a slow start to finish 10-6 and then registered three successive road playoff wins before upsetting the unbeaten New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

The 2001 Patriots and 1993 Dallas Cowboys also started 0-2 before recovering to win Super Bowl titles.

Starting 0-3 is, of course, grimmer. In the same time period only three teams have lost their opening three and made the playoffs, and none of them in the last 14 seasons.

“It is very urgent,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters. “You can’t win two until you’ve won one.”

Sloppy start

New York and Carolina are joined in their moment of desperation by six other winless teams heading into Week Three: the Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Giants have to overcome a sloppy start, having committed 10 turnovers in losses to the Cowboys and Broncos.

Carolina have lost nail biters to the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, who last week won on a last second touchdown.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Carolina have played well.

“They’ve lost two games by six points. Their defense has given up 36 points. Their offense has scored 30. Seattle scored (only) 12 points on them,” he said.

“Their offensive team is sixth in rushing. They only had seven penalties, two fumbles and an interception in their first two games, so they’re a solid football team.”

Mistakes have been the thing that has killed the Giants, who last year beat the Panthers 36-7.

“We can fix a lot by hanging on to the ball. A lot of what we can accomplish for ourselves would be to be able to take better care of the ball,” said Coughlin.

New York’s air attack has averaged more than 390 yards a game to lead the league, but the Giants have struggled on the ground.

While the Panthers have averaged 129.5 yards rushing led by DeAngelo Williams, the Giants have gained a meager 36.5 yards on average, worst in the league.

Coughlin would not lay the blame on second-year running back David Wilson, who fumbled twice in the opening loss to Dallas. He said the offensive line also had to do much better.

“You have to communicate well, you have to recognize in split seconds, you have to be physical enough to reject the fronts and the linebackers as they attack the line of scrimmage.

“You have to knock a hole in the defensive front. You have to break an arm tackle, which very few have,” said Coughlin.

“So you have a lot of things. You’ve got to block down field. Your receivers have got to get their faces in front of somebody down field, push toward the opponent’s goal line.”

Said Giants defensive end Justin Tuck: “We expect a battle. That’s a good football team, similar to us.”

Latest Headlines

in Music

Soundgarden fan sends death threats to Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs at Rock on the Range on Sunday, May 19, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio.

An obsessed fan of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell has been arrested and charged with sending death threats to the rocker and his family.

in Music

Arcade Fire confused by fans’ love for free downloads

Win Butler and Reed Parry of Arcade Fire perform at the 2014 Big Day Out Festival.

Arcade Fire are baffled by the avalanche of online file-sharing because fans will regularly buy expensive coffee but expect to get records for free.

in Music

Lars Ulrich fuels AC/DC Glastonbury rumor

Lars Ulrich of Metallica poses for portraits at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2013. Ulrich is promoting the film Metallica Through The Never, directed by Nimrod Antal.

Metallica star Lars Ulrich has fueled rumors rock veterans AC/DC will headline Britain's iconic Glastonbury festival next year.

in Music

Evanescence’s Amy Lee gives birth to baby boy

Amy Lee of American rock band Evanescence performs during the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (Foto vom 02.10.11). "Jedes Mal, wenn wir ein Album machen, ist es ein grosser Meilenstein in meinem Leben", sagt die 29-jaehrige Frontfrau Amy Lee von Evanescence im dapd-Interview. "The Open Door" 2006 sei eine Art Abschied gewesen, "Evanescence" markiert nun einen Neuanfang. Die US-Rockband legt am kommenden Freitag (07.10.11) ihr drittes, selbstbetiteltes Album vor. (zu dapd-Text) Foto: Felipe Dana/AP/dapd

Amy Lee introduces her first child to the world with her Instagram account.

in Sports

Star sprinter Torrin Lawrence dies at 25

FILE - In this June 20, 2013 file photo, Torrin Lawrence reacts after his heat in the senior men's 400-meter dash at the U.S. Championships athletics meet in Des Moines, Iowa. Former University of Georgia 400-meter runner Torrin Lawrence died in a car accident early Monday, July 28, 2014 in Cordele, Ga. He was 25.

Celebrated track star Torrin Lawrence has been killed in a tragic road accident in Georgia.