CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The New York Giants’ offense is a mess, and coach Tom Coughlin knows time is running out to find answers and salvage the season.
New York’s 38-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday was the most lopsided defeat in Coughlin’s 10 seasons with the Giants. It speaks volumes about just how far they are from being a competitive team.
In three games, the Giants have turned the ball over 13 times, Eli Manning has been sacked 11 times, and New York has only 133 yards rushing.
The Giants have been outscored 115-54 en route to an 0-3 start.
“Disappointed isn’t a strong enough word,” Coughlin said after Sunday’s performance.
The Giants have plenty of concerns as they prepare for next Sunday’s game against Kansas City (3-0).
Of the 161 teams that have started 0-3 since 1978, only five made the NFL playoffs, according to STATS.
“We’ll reload,” Coughlin said. “We’re going to fight every step of the way. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got. We’re going to battle and we’re going to be competitive and try as hard as we can.”
Everything the Giants tried Sunday didn’t work.
Manning was held to 119 yards on 12 of 23 passing. He was intercepted twice and sacked seven times — six in the first half. The Giants had 60 yards rushing, but 40 came after they were trailing 31-0.
The Giants are averaging just 2.7 yards per carry this season.
“Our offense was getting manhandled, quite frankly,” Coughlin said.
These aren’t easy times for the Giants and Coughlin, whose 64-year-old brother John died unexpectedly last week.
However, the win might have served as a turning point for the Panthers. Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes and ran for another.
It was Carolina’s most lopsided victory in franchise history, helping to eliminate questions about coach Ron Rivera’s job security entering the team’s bye week.
“I told a couple of guys we were past due for a win like this,” Newton said. “A win like this boosts our ego and gives us that swagger we need.”
Carolina’s previous best rout was a 34-0 win over Kansas City in 2008.
This one couldn’t have come at a better time for Rivera, especially after his team squandered fourth-quarter leads to Seattle and Buffalo. That dropped his record to 2-14 in games decided by seven points or fewer and raised speculation about his job.
“We allowed Coach, as people say, to survive another week,” Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said.
Defensive end Greg Hardy, who tied a career-high with three sacks in the first half, said if Rivera was feeling pressure to win he never let on to his players at practice.
“He basically came out and said, ‘You know what, (to heck with) me, I’m here for you guys,'” Hardy said. “He said, ‘This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to win because we are a team not because of any of that.' It makes you want to play 10 times harder for him.”
The Panthers set the tone early, sacking Manning five times in the first quarter. They limited the Giants to 18 yards — and just 1 yard passing — in the first half and took a 17-0 lead to the locker room.
The Panthers offense, feeding off the defense, finally got things rolling.
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula allowed Newton to run out of the read option, which helped open up an offense that had been mostly stagnant this season.
Newton had 223 yards passing and threw two touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell and one to Ted Ginn Jr. He ran for 45 yards and his first TD of the season.
DeAngelo Williams ran for 120 yards on 23 carries.
The Panthers turned to a read-option on their second possession, something they used frequently the last two seasons but haven’t gone to much this year. Newton ran four times for 40 yards on the drive, with fullback Mike Tolbert scoring on a 2-yard run.
Newton said that was designed to neutralize defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s pass rush.
“The game plan was to attack and nuke his aggressiveness and turn it into his curse,” Newton said.
Notes: Former New York Giant Chase Blackburn started in place of three-time Pro Bowler Jon Beason at weak side linebacker for the Panthers. ... New York CB Aaron Ross started in place of injured Corey Webster. He intercepted Newton early but later gave up a pair of touchdown passes. ... Giants RB David Wilson had a 17-yard touchdown run nullified by a holding penalty.