Yeah, they had linebacker injuries, etc., etc., but really, the problem was that their offense couldn't sustain a drive and keep the Panthers offense off the field at all. Carolina only scored 10 points in the first half, and 3 of those were off a punt that hit Gabril Wilson. And their only score in the third quarter was a 12 yard run by Steve Smith after Eli Manning threw the pick. Basically, the defense even with their linebackers bent a lot but didn't break, and if the offense had shown up and kept the defense off the field, it might have been enough.
But the offensive line, Eli Manning, the Giants coaches, etc. - they weren't prepared for this game at all. Carolina's defense is good - not great. Their running game was below average. The Giants were at home. There's no excuse for being that unready to play, especially on offense where they were largely healthy. If this were baseball, Eli would be sent back to the minors - he's clearly not ready for a game of this magnitude.
Also, the announcers on the radio (I left the sports bar after the last pick) pointed out it was only Eli's 23rd start. Only 23 starts? I think that's enough to play a legitimate playoff game against anyone but the 2000 Ravens or 1985 Bears. Not necessarily be Tom Brady, but be competent against a decent defense.
And some of this has to fall on Tom Coughlin - it was a disgraceful showing at home - put the Texans or 49ers out there, and I guarantee you would have seen more effort - more life. Coughlin didn't get his team up for this game, and that's a serious issue. As enraged as I was watching the game, I couldn't believe that the team itself didn't show more fire. They took it lying down. They stayed on the mat and didn't get up.