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Carolina Panthers

What We Learned: Panthers at Giants

1. A TALE OF TWO CAMS: Even with running back Jonathan Stewart out with a knee injury, the Panthers rushed for 100-plus yards for the 25th consecutive game, gaining 171 thanks in large part to quarterback Cam Newton and rookie running back Cameron Artis-Payne.

Newton rushed for 100 yards, highlighted by a 47-yard scamper in the first quarter, to reach the century mark for the third time in his career. He also passed for 340 yards and five touchdowns to become the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 300, rush for 100 and throw five touchdown passes in a game.

In addition, Newton is now the first player in NFL history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 500 in each of his first five seasons.

Artis-Payne, a rookie who had 12 rushes for 31 yards entering the game, eclipsed both of those season totals with 14 rushes for 59 yards. He also added the first two receptions of his career for 34 yards.

Fullback Mike Tolbert got most of the early work. Tolbert gained 10 yards on five attempts, while Fozzy Whittaker had 2 yards on two rushes and also caught two passes for 14 yards.

The Panthers seemed to miss Stewart early, but getting Whittaker and Artis-Payne involved in the short passing game helped open things up.

2. ONCE A-GINN, TWICE IN FACT: A remarkable season for wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. – one that could be worthy of consideration for NFL Comeback Player of the Year – continued against the Giants.

Ginn opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown on third-and-goal, and he grabbed Newton's final touchdown pass, turning a short shot into a 14-yard score on third-and-goal. In between, he dropped what looked destined to be a lengthy touchdown pass.

"I've been blessed to have a guy like Cam Newton who continues to give me opportunities," Ginn said. "Sometimes I don't come down with the ones I need to come down with, but he still comes back and makes a play for me."

Ginn now has 10 touchdowns this year after catching 14 passes all of last season for Arizona. In 2013 with the Panthers, after catching two passes for San Francisco the previous season, Ginn was clutch for Carolina while catching 36 balls for 556 yards and five touchdowns as the team's No. 3 receiver.

This season he's the Panthers' No. 1, and he showed off his physical toughness Sunday to go with his mental toughness. Ginn exited with a rib injury after his second touchdown, and officials in the press box announced that he was out for the game. But Ginn came back in late, with press box personnel announcing they erred earlier and that Ginn was actually questionable to return. Upon his return, he responded with a 12-yard grab on the game-winning drive.

"I'm good. It's a part of a game. There are bumps and bruises, but you have to keep fighting," Ginn said. "The game changed, so as a man you've got to pick yourself up and get back out there."

3. TILLMAN PRODUCTIVE IN RETURN: Cornerback Charles Tillman made a big impact in his return to action after a four-game absence. The veteran, who has been nursing a knee injury, forced and recovered a Rashad Jennings fumble and intercepted a pass in the end zone.

"I got lucky punching the ball out," Tillman said. "I played OK. I was pleased with it. It was good to be out there with (my teammates)."

Head coach Ron Rivera was impressed with Tillman's performance, especially considering the high number of snaps he played.

"He played a lot more than anticipated," Rivera said.  

4. HAPPY HOMECOMING FOR OLSEN: Sunday's game was a special one for tight end Greg Olsen. The New Jersey native starred at Wayne Hills High School (about 40 minutes away from MetLife Stadium) and had a big support group in attendance.

"I had a lot of family and friends from the area that came in. I haven't played up here often. It was only my second time in my career. It was cool for a lot of people that have watched me grow up and play," Olsen said.

Olsen was his typical productive self against the Giants. He recorded six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 37-yard pass from Cam Newton on third-and-1. He also set a new career-high with 1,048 yards on the year.

"I heard a few chants coming out of the tunnel with people yelling things from high school," Olsen said with a laugh. "You hear it and you enjoy it. It's cool to come play at home – you ask anybody who has done it. To score and win a game like that was fun."

5. DEFENSE DISAPPOINTED: A team effort earned a 28-point lead and a team effort let it slip away, but some team members took it harder than others.

"We take pride in being a really good defense and executing, and we didn't do that today," linebacker Thomas Davis said. "From a veteran leadership standpoint, that starts with me. I have to be better next week."

After the Giants' first nine possessions resulted in one touchdown, one turnover and seven punts, they found the end zone on four of their final five drives. The last one, which tied it at 35, marked the first time all season the defense allowed a touchdown after a turnover – a remarkable run.

"Defensively, did we play as well as we wanted to? No. Of course not," defensive tackle Dwan Edwards said. "But we came away with the win, and we'll have good stuff to learn from."

Senior writer Bryan Strickland and staff writer Max Henson contributed to this report.

View game action photos from Carolina's 38-35 win over New York.


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