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Giants christen new stadium with win over Panthers

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The New York Giants celebrated a rousing housewarming at the New Meadowlands Stadium with a 31-18 victory over the Carolina Panthers Sunday to open their 2010 NFL season.

Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes to Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw bulled in for another score as the Giants overcame a 16-14 halftime deficit to christen the $1.6 billion stadium in style.

"It's an historic first win for the New York Giants franchise here in the brand new stadium," Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters. "We talked definitely about that.

"I thought that it is an outstanding win for our team."

A 19-yard touchdown pass by Panthers quarterback Matt Moore to Steve Smith with three seconds left in the second quarter gave the visitors the lead at intermission.

New York, whose final game last season at Giants Stadium across the parking lot from the new building was a 41-9 loss to Carolina, took charge in the second half.

A botched snap on a Carolina punt then gave New York the ball on the Panthers' 38-yard line.

After two connections with receiver Mario Manningham, Manning threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Nicks, who also hauled in a pair of scoring strikes in the first half.

Bradshaw added a four-yard touchdown burst in the fourth quarter after setting up the score with a 39-yard run.

John Kasay kicked three first-half field goals for the Panthers, who added a safety late in the game when a blocked punt bounced back through the end zone.

Manning completed 20 of 30 passes for 263 yards, and had three interceptions on balls that bounced off the hands of his receivers.

"A couple tips, those things happen sometimes," Manning said about the interceptions. "It is a part of football and you just have to fight through them.

"Our receivers made some huge plays for us and that is what we have to do offensively."

Moore was 14-of-33 for 182 yards and had three passes picked off in the end zone to kill scoring drives.

(Writing by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue)