The Carolina Panthers found the best way to go into a break in their schedule.
It comes off the most convincing victory in history of the 19-year-old franchise.
Cam Newton threw touchdown passes to Brandon LaFell on consecutive possessions and the Panthers didn't need to withstand any late-game threats this time, trouncing the New York Giants 38-0 on Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium.
The margin was the largest ever for Carolina.
"It's hard to come by in the NFL," Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly said of the shutout. "It's going to make the bye week so much better. We've been ahead in games and let it slip by and the message this week was to keep it going."
Newton finished with three touchdown passes and another touchdown on the ground as the Panthers (1-2) avoided their third 0-3 start in a five-year span.
The Giants (0-3), with at least eight victories in every season since a 6-10 mark in 2004, are winless through three games for the first time since 1996 -- before Tom Coughlin became coach. The New York sideline was described as lifeless.
"There was nothing to really get excited about," safety Antrel Rolle said. "There wasn't many exciting plays being made out there. We've got to dig deep. Offensively, defensively, we're not making enough plays."
This result ought to alleviate scrutiny on embattled Carolina coach Ron Rivera.
A week after losing in the final seconds at the Buffalo Bills, the Panthers played a solid first half and then pulled away. They posted their first shutout since 2008, a 34-0 rout of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams gained 120 yards on 23 carries.
The Panthers, needing to compensate for an injury-ravaged secondary, made four first-quarter sacks of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Carolina ended up with seven sacks, three by defensive end Greg Hardy.
"It's just one of those days where you just get in the zone, you know all your plays and what not," Hardy said. "I'm glad we got (the victory). It takes some pressure off going into the bye week."
The Giants had 18 yards of first-half offense and 66 yards through three quarters. They ended up with 150.
Manning was held to 119 passing yards, completing 12 of 23 throws with one interception. He didn't play on New York's last possession with less than two minutes to play.
"Just got beat in a lot of ways, could never get anything going," Manning said. "Words aren't going to fix anything. It's about us having great practices and coming out there and playing better on game day."
Carolina's defensive backfield had new combinations after recent injuries, but that unit stood up tall.
"The line got after it," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said, then making a light-hearted call-out for the secondary. "Some of those were coverage sacks, too."
Newton completed 15 of 27 passes for 223 yards.
Aaron Ross' interception of Newton, with a 9-yard return, set up the Giants at the Carolina 17 early in the second quarter. A holding penalty on offensive tackle Will Beatty wiped out a touchdown run and then Manning was sacked before the Giants got back into field goal range. It didn't matter because Josh Brown was wide left on a 38-yard attempt.
The Panthers then went 10 plays, extending their lead to 10-0 on Graham Gano's 53-yard field goal.
"This is just one step in the right direction for us," Newton said. "A win like this just boosts our ego."
The Newton-to-LaFell touchdown combination occurred twice in a seven-play stretch.
Newton threw 16 yards to LaFell with 12 seconds to play in the first half on a third-and-12 snap.
Newton connected with LaFell for a 20-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.