Giants able to settle down and settle in
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Once they got cozy in their new digs, the New York Giants weren’t about to let Carolina spoil their homecoming.
It took the Giants more than a half to fully feel comfortable in their $1.6 billion stadium. Then they surged past the Panthers, getting a little revenge along the way, in a 31-18 season-opening victory yesterday.
“It was a whole new half, and all the errors we made were out the window,’’ said Hakeem Nicks, who caught three touchdown passes from Eli Manning, all in the left corner of the end zone. “We just wanted to go out there and click.’’
Did they ever.
Ahmad Bradshaw set up his own 4-yard TD run in the fourth quarter with a 39-yard romp as New York outscored Carolina, 17-2, in the second half. The Giants outgained the Panthers, 196-72, in the last two quarters of a generally sloppy game. There were nine turnovers — five by Carolina — and 16 penalties.
“We’ll learn from what we did wrong and capitalize on it next week,’’ Nicks said.
Actually, they learned quickly enough to take advantage right away against a team that routed them, 41-9, in New York’s final game at Giants Stadium last December.
In 2005, the Panthers shut out the Giants in a playoff game at the same venue.
But Carolina couldn’t match New York in the second half this time before 77,245 fans — considered a sellout despite the unusual sight of hundreds of empty seats. The Giants could not sell all the club seats, which don’t count under league blackout rules.
“It was a good win,’’ guard Rich Seubert said. “Everybody knew what happened against them last season. It’s always good when you open a new place, the new Giants Stadium, and get a win in it. It is going to be remembered for a long time.’’
Nicks finished with four catches for 75 yards, while Manning went 20 of 30 for 263 yards. But he also was picked off three times.
So was Carolina quarterback Matt Moore, who left the game wobbly in the final minutes after being sacked by Osi Umenyiora.
“Like all openers, everybody struggles to some degree,’’ said Panthers coach John Fox. “There’s no question they made more plays than we did. We made a few more mistakes than they did.’’
New York turned a botched snap on a Carolina punt into 7 points as Nicks caught his third TD pass late in the third quarter for a 24-16 lead.
The Giants had taken the lead for good on Lawrence Tynes’s 31-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, a series kept alive by Manning’s quarterback sneak on fourth and inches.