The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered Week-11 missing even more pieces of a defense that hadn’t performed very well even at their healthiest, as the team would be without Lavonte David and Justin Evans against the New York Giants in New Jersey.
It wouldn’t take long for New York to take advantage of the Bucs defense as Eli Manning found Odell Beckham Jr. for 41 yards a few plays into the game, and Saquon Barkley on a 6-yard play action touchdown pass to put the Giants ahead 7-0 just over three minutes into the game.
The Bucs were able to move the ball against the Giants as well, but as all too often happened a week ago, the team came away empty handed despite getting the ball deep into Giants territory. This time they turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert a 4th-and-1 inside the 10 on a Ryan Fitzpatrick sneak.
When the Giants offense took the field at their own 5-yard-line, it was once again met by a Bucs defense that looked completely unable to slow anyone down, and it wasn’t long before the Giants were looking at a 1st-and-goal. Moments later Barkley was hopping over Bucs defenders at the 6-yard-line and on his way to stretching the ball over the goal line and handing the Giants a two-score lead under two minutes into the second quarter.
After each team had a drive that without much success, the Bucs finally found some momentum on offense, with Fitzpatrick finding Mike Evans and O.J. Howard on big plays before finally running the ball into the end zone off the outside after the play got blown up inside on a 4th-and-goal, to pull the Bucs to within 14-7.
The Bucs would have a chance to cut into the lead or tie it up late in the half, but Fitzpatrick threw a terrible interception to Michael Thomas which sent the game into the half with the Giants still up a touchdown.
Tampa Bay would start the second half with the football and hopes of tying up the one-score game, but instead ugly Fitzpatrick would show up again, and a pass that was almost intercepted by Janoris Jenkins, was instead taken away by Alec Ogeltree who returned it for a touchdown to put the Giants ahead 21-7.
A drive later the Bucs were moving the ball again when bad Fitzpatrick reared his ugly head again, and suddenly his day was starting to look like Jameis Winston’s day in Cincinnati that pushed Fitz back into the starting lineup.
The result for Fitzpatrick would be the same as it had for Winston that day in Cincinnati as the 14-year vet was replaced by the Bucs former first-overall pick. The Bucs worked Jameis into the game slowly, relying heavily on Peyton Barber on Winston’s first drive, but the Bucs quarterback was sharp when he did release the ball. Finally, Winston took off towards the end zone on a scramble, but was stripped of the ball which bounced into the end zone, but luckily for the Bucs was recovered by Mike Evans which cut the lead to 24-14 late in the third quarter.
The score wouldn’t hold up long however, as Eli Manning and the Giants once again made it look easy moving the ball downfield, and before you knew it Manning was connecting with Beckham Jr. on a touchdown pass to stretch the lead to 31-14.
The offensive run continued as the Bucs were able to move the ball again by handing the ball to Barber time and again, and eventually Barber was punching the ball into the end zone with just under 10 minutes to play, cutting the Giants lead to 31-21.
After the Bucs were able to force a punt thanks to a third-down sack by Gerald McCoy, Winston got the Bucs moving again, and eventually he found Adam Humphries for a touchdown to cut the lead to 31-28.
The Giants wouldn’t allow the Bucs to feel good for long as Manning hit tight end Evan Engram for a huge play to move the ball deep into Tampa Bay, setting up an eventual Barkley touchdown to once again stretch the lead to 10 at 38-28 with under four minutes to play.
Winston and the Bucs offense wasn’t ready to pack it in however, as Jameis worked the two-minute offense to perfection, finding Mike Evans on a touchdown pass to cut the lead to 38-35, but with just over two minutes to play it would take an onside kick to give them a chance to see the ball again with any real time to try to score.
He was perfect on his five extra point attempts, but Cairo Santos couldn't pull off the onside kick, and while the defense would force another Giants punt late, the Buccaneers would get the ball back with just 23 seconds on the clock at their own 20-yard-line, and needing to take a big shot, Winston launched the ball deep downfield, and it was intercepted by B.W. Webb to end the football game.