Skip to main content
Carolina Panthers

Panthers handle Giants 20-10


CHARLOTTE - Fans filed into Bank of America Stadium for Saturday night's preseason opener to check out the new-look Panthers and their new quarterback.

They filed out with many of their reasons for optimism still intact.

One year after the Panthers failed to score an offensive touchdown over the course of four preseason games, they found the end zone twice in the preseason opener to defeat the New York Giants 20-10 in head coach Ron Rivera's debut.

"It feels great. It really does," Rivera said. "I'm very happy, very pleased, very proud of our guys. I thought they came out and did the one thing I asked for more than anything else – they played hard."

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen bounced back from an early interception that was returned for a touchdown to direct the Panthers to a touchdown of their own midway through the first quarter. Top draft pick Cam Newton made his debut at the start of the second quarter and led the offense to a field goal that gave the Panthers their first lead.

"They're both making progress," Rivera said. "With the exception of the interception Jimmy threw, they both played well. I liked their composure at times and their presence in the huddle."


Clausen played the first quarter, completing 4-of-7 passes for 69 yards. Newton played the second and third quarters before veteran Derek Anderson finished it out. Newton hit on 8-of-19 passes for 134 yards.

After Panthers linebacker Sean Ware blocked a 44-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter that would have tied the game, Anderson (3-for-4, 71 yards) salted it away. He connected with rookie Kealoha Pilares on a wide receiver screen for a 35-yard touchdown and a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, set up by a Charly Martin block and a pair of Martin catches that covered 36 yards.

The quarterback is always a storyline in the preseason, but there were plenty of other angles as well.

The defense, despite missing a multitude of big names (Jon Beason, Charles Johnson, Chris Gamble, Thomas Davis) came to play. They yielded only a field goal and allowed just three first downs to the Giants offense over starting quarterback Eli Manning's five drives.

Wide receiver Armanti Edwards' emergence at training camp carried over to the game, with punt returns of 22 and 24 yards in the opening quarter and a 36-yard reception from Newton just before halftime to set up a field goal for a 13-10 lead.

The tight ends were targeted early and often. The Giants got a heavy dose of Greg Olsen, who scored the Panthers' first touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Clausen and finished with three catches for 58 yards.

"This is a fun offense to be a part of, especially for a tight end," said Olsen, acquired in a trade from the Chicago Bears in a trade two weeks ago. "We are going to try to attack defenses and put them on their heels."

Even with so many promising signs on offense, the Panthers fell behind early. They didn't stay down for long.

Clausen hooked up with wide receiver Brandon LaFell for a 31-yard gain on the first offensive snap of the game, but the Giants responded with an even bigger play. On third-and-12 near midfield, Clausen looked for running back DeAngelo Williams in the flat but instead found Giants linebacker Michael Boley, who intercepted Clausen's errant throw and ran untouched 56 yards for a 7-0 lead.

"That was a mistake on my part. I threw it behind DeAngelo," Clausen said. "Obviously there were some ups and downs, some mistakes and some good plays by everybody."

Clausen and the Panthers got it back on their third possession. After Lawrence Tynes came up just short on a 56-yard field goal to set Carolina up near midfield, Williams took a screen 16 yards and then rushed for 20 more. Clausen capped the quick strike – a three-play drive in 58 seconds – with an 18-yard touchdown toss to Olsen.

Clausen played four series before giving way to Newton for the next seven. Greeted by flashbulbs and a standing ovation, Newton hit Olsen for 10 yards on his first snap. He targeted Olsen for 30 yards later in the drive, setting up Olindo Mare for a 26-yard field goal that gave the Panthers a 10-7 edge five minutes into the second quarter.

"A lot of butterflies, a lot of adrenaline pumping," Newton said of his first appearance. "But it was fun to start out on a positive note and keep all the juices flowing and the ball moving."

The Panthers never trailed the rest of the way, winning their preseason opener for the first time since 2008.

"They were very resilient. We had a couple of bad things happen early, but it didn't faze them," Rivera said. "We've got a long way to go. I told them, 'It's a journey of a thousand steps. You just took one.'"


Related Content