Panthers vow not to overlook Giants
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[December 17, 2015]
By Larry Fine
(Reuters) - On paper, the New York Giants
look to be overmatched in Sunday's pivotal game against the unbeaten
Carolina Panthers, but the rival National Football League coaches do not
see it that way.
The Giants are fresh off a thrilling win that snapped a three-game
skid and revived their playoff hopes and are now looking to use that
momentum to upset the NFL's last remaining undefeated team.
"It's an exciting time for us. We are in the hunt here in the NFC
East," Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters at the team's
practice facility on Wednesday.
"This is a very, very good football team, an undefeated football
team. We are excited to host them this weekend."
The Giants (6-7) are tied with Washington and Philadelphia for first
in the sub-par NFC East division, but Carolina coach Ron Rivera sees
them as a dangerous opponent.
"To come to New York and play this team with an Eli Manning as the
quarterback and (receiver) Odell Beckham as an explosive playmaker
... yeah, I'm concerned," he told a conference call.
"They're hungry, they have a taste of victory coming off a Monday
night win (over Miami), and they won it in the fashion that you
would expect them to with their big playmakers making plays."
Carolina may be the most underrated 13-0 team the NFL has seen, slow
to win accolades despite being the first this season to clinch an
opening-round bye in the playoffs.
While quarterback Cam Newton is a leading candidate for league MVP
honors with his strong arm and ability to run, the team has relied
on its defense and running attack and is far from flashy.
"It's really irrelevant, it's really just background noise," tight
end Greg Olsen said about perceptions of the team.
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"We donít need anybodyís votes, we donít need style points, we donít
need any of that. In our league, your record is what you are ...
weíre not going to apologize and weíre not going to change how we do
Coughlin noted that Carolina rate third overall on defense and
sacks, are an NFL-best plus-18 in turnover margin, second in rushing
and first in scoring at 31.6 points per game.
This should stimulate the New Yorkers, said Coughlin, whose team
often play their best against top-flight opponents.
"Itís obviously the excitement about being involved in a game
against a team of this ability and the natural competitive instincts
that I would hope everyone at this level has," he said.
Rivera said there would be no let-up from the Panthers, still in
pursuit of home-field advantage through the playoffs.
"We need the win," he said.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)
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