While New York may be "The City That Never Sleeps," the Carolina Panthers were the ones left restless on Thursday night in Charlotte.
The New York Giants pulled out to a 20-0 lead by halftime and cruised to a 36-7 primetime victory over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
"We got beat by a better football team," said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. "That is the truth of the matter. They outcoached us and outplayed us. That is the bottom line. We came out and didn't execute very well. We missed tackles early. We were soft in coverage. Offensively, we moved the ball initially and then we self destructed on a couple of situations. You can't do that against a very good football team. That's who we played. We played a very good football team today."
Panthers second-year quarterback Cam Newton struggled in the contest, throwing three interceptions — part of five takeaways by the Giants defense.
He finished the game with 242 passing yards and six rushing yards.
Newton said the tough loss wasn't so much due to the Giants' ability, but by his own team's performance.
"It was nothing that they did," he said. "It was all on us. Offensively, we didn't get the job done. We knew what type of game it was going to be during the preparation part. Of course, they have elite defensive linemen and elite guys on defense, but we have good players on our team also. It wasn't more of what they did. It was more so what we didn't do."
With Carolina's offense struggling in the first half, the Giants 'O' shredded through the Panther defense.
New York (2-1) scored two touchdowns in the first half — the first coming 3:22 into the game on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Eli Manning to tight end Martellus Bennett.
Before halftime, the Giants added a one-yard scoring run from running back Andre Brown, who was playing in place of the injured Ahmad Bradshaw.
"We didn't slow them down at all early," Rivera said. "We have to. If we don't slow a team like that down, they are going to put you in a hole and they are going to let that pass rush go. That's what happened to us."
Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes added a pair of field goals from 47 and 49 yards in the first half to complete the 20-0 halftime tally.
Newton said no changes need to be made to the team at the break — only the way it was operating.
"There really wasn't any adjustments that needed to be made other than execution," he said. "It was different players on different downs and collectively, the results were evident that it was a lack thereof of any form of winning. One play, it is this player. Next play, it is that player. Next play, it is me. You can't win like that."
Carolina (1-2) tried to change its fortune in the third quarter, but a fumble by Joe Adams on the opening kickoff of the second half would be forced and recovered by New York's Spencer Paysinger.
The turnover led to another Tynes 30-yard field goal.
Rivera said that after Adams, a rookie out of Arkansas, fumbled for the third time this season on kick and punt returns, his status as the team's returnman will be looked at.
"We're going to evaluate it," Rivera said. "We know it has been an issue. It has been disappointing. The young man (Adams) had a dynamic career coming in from the college ranks. We saw flashes of it during training camp. We are most certainly going to evaluate the situation and look at it. We do have two very good alternatives as far as Kealoha Pilares and Armanti Edwards. We'll go back and examine those things. The kid (Adams) has some ability. Right now, he might be star struck."
The Panthers only score of the game came on their next possession of the second half when Newton lunged one yard into the end zone for a score to complete a 13-play, 80 yard drive.
After adding another Tynes field goal, Brown helped the Giants put the game in the fourth quarter with his second rushing touchdown.
He finished the contest with 113 rushing yards on 20 carries to go along with his two scores.
After throwing for a career-high 510 yards against Tampa Bay last week, Manning threw for 288 yards on 27-of-35 completions for one touchdown and no interceptions.
While most of the Panthers' regular starters were pulled late, wide receiver Steve Smith asked to remain in the game.
After being held to one catch in the first half, Smith caught a 23-yard pass in the closing stages of the contest.
Smith said his team's showcase on Thursday is one it should forget.
"Everything that we did tonight, we need to go ahead and get a trash can — a good tin one — and go ahead and burn those plays and never go back to them," he said. "It was shameful for the fans. It was flat out terrible. We just got our tails whipped from the beginning until the end in every aspect. It was pretty disgusting."
Newton shared Smith's sentiment.
"Who wants to support something that puts on a performance of embarrassment? That's what that was tonight," he said. "If I was a fan of the Carolina Panthers, I would be holding my head down in shame of the product that was out there today."
Newton and the Panthers try to bounce back from their disappointing loss next week, but it won't be easy as they travel to Atlanta to take on the division rival Falcons (2-0).
Rivera said Thursday's loss to the Giants isn't one his team should frenzy about, but one it should use as an important lesson.
"I'd hate to think that you'd hit the panic button after the third game of the year," he said. "What this was in my opinion is a lesson that you get from, to use the euphemism, from your big brother. They came in, slapped you around and dragged you through the gravel a little bit. Hopefully, we learned from it. Hopefully, we don't like it and we come back with focus and get ready to play because we have a divisional game next week. We'll learn from these things. This is not one of those games you throw away and say we were just overwhelmed. Yea, we were, but we can still learn, grow from it and become a better football team."