EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – Corey Webster’s nose for the ball convinced the New York Giants to use their top draft pick on the LSU cornerback. In his first prime-time NFL action, the rookie justified the decision.

Inserted into the first unit after an injury to starter Will Peterson, Webster had an interception and recovered a fumble as the Giants forced five turnovers in a 27-21 victory over Carolina on Saturday night that snapped the Panthers’ 10-game preseason win streak.

Eli Manning threw two long scoring passes to overcome a subpar performance by the Giants’ first-team offense and defense, both of which were pushed around by the Panthers in the first half.

Aside from the two touchdown passes, the Panthers’ starters virtually shut down the Giants’ offense. Defensive end Julius Peppers scored one of Carolina’s touchdowns on a 29-yard fumble return.

Eli Manning was 3-of-9 for 150 yards – 131 of which came on the two scoring plays – and looked hurried and out of rhythm on most of his pass attempts. The second-year quarterback connected on touchdown passes of 90 yards to David Tyree and 41 yards to Amani Toomer.

Manning suffered an elbow sprain when Peppers sacked him on the play that led to the touchdown, but X-rays were negative.

“He hit the ball out and when I tried to throw, it was like throwing air,” Manning said. “It feels better now, and everything should be fine.”

Backup quarterback Tim Hasselbeck threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tim Carter in the fourth quarter for the Giants’ final points.

Jake Delhomme was 15-of-19 for 146 yards for the Panthers and appeared able to move the ball at will against the Giants during his quarter and a half of work. But despite rolling up 260 yards of offense in the first half, the Panthers trailed 17-14 at the half, with one of their two touchdowns coming on the fumble return by Peppers.

The other touchdown came on a 2-yard pass from Delhomme to tight end Mike Seidman in the first quarter.

“We moved the ball up and down the field,” Delhomme said. “Turnovers killed us. It was a little sloppy.”

Webster was recruited as a wide receiver at LSU before being switched to defensive back before his sophomore year, and he finished with 16 career interceptions, the second-most in school history. The Giants drafted him to improve a secondary that had problems hanging onto the ball last season.

In the second quarter, Webster stripped the ball from Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith at the Carolina 28, setting up Jay Feeley’s 35-yard field goal. In the third quarter, he intercepted Chris Weinke and returned the ball 28 yards.

“It was either feast or famine,” said Giants defensive end Michael Strahan. “I don’t think we really stopped them at all, especially in the first half. We got turnovers and that’s something we wanted to do, but we put ourselves in a hole too many times.”

On Carolina’s first possession of the game, Delhomme drove the Panthers to the New York 17 before throwing a ball directly into the hands of Giants cornerback Will Allen at the 3.

Three plays later, Manning completed an 8-yard pass to Tyree, who appeared to be wrapped up by linebacker Will Witherspoon. But the second-year wide receiver slipped away and ran down the right sideline.

The Giants’ offensive futility hit bottom on the starters’ final possession of the first half.

Under pressure on first down, Manning’s pass fell far short of tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. On the next play, Peppers blew past right tackle Kareem McKenzie, knocked the ball out of Manning’s hand and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to give Carolina a 14-10 lead, dunking the ball over the crossbar for emphasis.

Manning brought the Giants back two play later, hitting Toomer down the middle for a 41-yard touchdown.

AP-ES-08-20-05 2307EDT

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