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(Sunday, December 27th)
Final Score: Carolina 41, NY Giants 9
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Jonathan Stewart rushed for a team- record 206 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, as the Panthers handed the Giants a thorough 41-9 drubbing at the Meadowlands that eventually led to their playoff ouster.
In its final game at Giants Stadium, New York (8-7) was embarrassed by a Carolina club playing for pride, getting outgained 247-60 on the ground.
"Very, very poor performance by our team. For us to play the way we did today, there's obviously no excuse for it," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said.
Coupled with Green Bay's win over Seattle, the defending NFC East champions will be starting their offseason early, as a win by Dallas against Washington on Sunday night eliminated the Giants from postseason contention.
Matt Moore improved to 3-1 in place of the injured Jake Delhomme, completing 15-of-20 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns as the Panthers (7-8) continued to thrive in the role of spoiler.
"We had to come out and play tough and play to win regardless of what they had on the line. That was kind of our mentality," Moore said.
Eli Manning had three of New York's four turnovers, finishing with 296 yards with a touchdown pass to Steve Smith and on 29-of-43 attempts. Ahmad Bradshaw led the ground game with just 53 yards on 11 carries.
New York appeared to get off to a good start when Smith caught a 26-yard touchdown pass to cap a lengthy opening drive. However, a holding penalty negated the score and Mario Manningham fumbled in the red zone three plays later.
The Panthers held the ball for the next seven minutes and settled on a 38-yard John Kasay field goal on the 15th play of the drive late in the opening frame.
Carolina crossed the goal line its next three times with the ball. Stewart worked his way through the defense for a 29-yard score early in the second, and Muhsin Muhammad got behind the secondary to haul in a perfectly thrown 22- yard toss in the right corner of the end zone after another quick Giants punt.
With five minutes left before halftime, Richard Marshall intercepted a Manning pass at New York's 29-yard line. Mike Goodson's 13-yard gain on a screen pass moved the chains on third down, and Jeff King was left wide open on a play- action fake for a two-yard grab and a commanding 24-0 cushion.
Manning's fumble on the final play of the half ended an eerily reminiscent opening 30 minutes, as the Giants were on the other side of the lopsided score that ended in Washington's gadget play gone wrong last Monday night.
"We had talked all week about consistency and about playing at a high level, and one game just carrying you into the next game and continuing to play well, so I'm at a loss for words," Coughlin said.
The rout was on just two minutes into the second half, as Carolina's Steve Smith caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Moore to finish off a four-play, 71-yard surge against a lifeless defense.
Lawrence Tynes got the Giants on the board behind a 40-yard field goal midway through the third, and Kasay countered seven minutes later with a 27-yarder.
New York's Steve Smith caught a two-yard score three minutes into the final quarter, though the point after failed.
Stewart's 52-yard scamper set up Brad Hoover's one-yard plunge to paydirt, and the blowout was personified when Giants fullback Madison Hedgecock dropped a sure touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the Carolina one late in the game.
New York's first game in Giants Stadium occurred on October 10, 1976, a 24-14 loss to Dallas. The club, which finished 155-117 all-time at the venue in the regular season, plus a 7-4 mark in playoff games, is moving to a $1.6 billion, 82,500-seat stadium that will also house the New York Jets next season. The 32-point margin of defeat was just three points shy of New York?s worst-ever loss at Giants Stadium, a 35-0 setback to Dallas on September 4, 1995...The Giants end their regular season at Minnesota next week, while Carolina looks to reach .500 against New Orleans...New York was without cornerbacks Aaron Ross (hamstring) and Corey Webster (knee), while Carolina's leading rusher, DeAngelo Williams, sat with a sprained left ankle...Carolina's Steve Smith ended with 60 yards on five receptions but left the game in the second half after fracturing his left forearm. His same-name counterpart caught seven passes for 70 yards for New York.
12/27 23:57:03 ET