TAMPA BAY-- In his first career start, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones scrambled into the endzone from seven yards away with less than two minutes left in the game, leading the New York Giants to their 32-31 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Buccaneers rookie kicker Matt Gay, who kicked four field goals in the game, missed a game-winning 34 yard field goal as time expired.
The Giants (1-2) won the opening coin toss but chose to receive the ball at the beginning of the second half putting the Buccaneers (1-2) offense on the field first.
On their opening drive the Buccaneers did something they hadn't done in their first two games of the season & that's score a touchdown on their opening possession. The touchdown drive, that took a little more than five minutes, was 75 yards & 10 plays. Three of the plays were completions from quarterback Jameis Winston to wide receiver Mike Evans, the final play being a 21 yard touchdown catch by Evans, his first touchdown catch of the season.
New York had similar success moving the ball on their first possession of the game. And on their first offensive snap from scrimmage, Jones threw his first NFL pass. The pass was a completion to tight end Evan Engram for 18 yards & the first of four completions Jones recorded on the opening drive. Jones, who threw for 336 yards & two touchdowns, ended the first drive with 53 yards but the drive ended inside the redzone & the Giants had to settle for a 36 yard field goal by kicker Aldrick Rosas.
Because of the missed extra point after their first touchdown, the Buccaneers led by three points when they received the ball again. But just like their opening drive, their second drive resulted in a touchdown from Winston to Evans. This drive, which lasted less than four minutes featured a 41 yard screen pass & run by running back Ronald Jones II. Following the screen pass, Winston, who finished the game with 380 yards, was able to hit tight end O.J. Howard for 18 yards to put the Buccaneers inside the five to set up the three yard touchdown pass to Evans, his second of the game.
Not only was the combination of the Buccaneers' two touchdowns the same but the result of the extra point was the same, because kicker Matt Gay had his attempt blocked, leaving the Buccaneers with a nine point lead.
With the score 12-3. Jones led the Giants on a 12 play drive & not only recorded his first career touchdown drive but the quarterback ended the drive running up the right sideline for a seven yard touchdown run. Jones had a run earlier on the drive for 11 yards. But the drive was extended by a pass interference penalty on Buccaneers' cornerback Carlton Davis III.
Now with a three point lead, the Buccaneers went big on first down with Winston hitting Evans for 55 yards. The result of the long pass play left the Buccaneers at the Giants 20 yard line. But a sack by Giants linebacker Oshane Ximines on a third & 9 play forced the Buccaneers to send out Gay, who this time drilled a 47 yard field goal, making the score 15-10.
New York went three & out on their next possession. And after a pass interference penalty on Giants defensive back Jabril Peppers plus a completion from Winston to Howard for 30 yards got the Buccaneers inside the Giants 10 yard line. But again, the drive ended without a touchdown & Gay added his second field goal of the game, this one from 27 yards away.
The Giants next drive was longer than their previous one but just by one play because following a third down completion by Jones for 15 yards to wide receiver Darius Slayton, the rookie suffered his first career turnover when he was sacked & stripped by linebacker Shaq Barrett. The fumble was recovered by linebacker Carl Nassib.
After the fumble, the Buccaneers started the ensuing drive inside Giants territory at the 41 yard line. And the drive ended just like the previous two Buccaneers touchdown drives in the first half, with a pass from Winston to Evans, the third connection being from 20 yards away.
New York got the ball back before the end of the half but for only 50 seconds & that left enough time for Tampa Bay to add three more points when Gay hit a 52 yard field goal, his third field goal of the half.
The first half ended with the Buccaneers leading 28-10, with their offense being led by Winston who finished the first 30 minutes of the game with 263 yards while the offense recorded 16 first downs & 311 total yards.
At the start of the second half, New York, who lost running back Saquon Barkley to an ankle injury in the first half, needed just one play to cut into the 18 point deficit, when following a touchback, Jones hit Engram with a crossing pattern & the tight end scampered up the left sideline past the Tampa Bay secondary for a 75 yard touchdown catch. And after Tampa Bay was unable to move the ball on their next drive, New York got even closer when Jones led the offense down the field 80 yards in just under 4 minutes. The big play on the drive was a completion by Jones to Slayton for 46 yards & ended with a seven yard touchdown catch by wide receiver wide receiver Sterling Shephard.
After failing to hit the two point conversion following Engram's touchdown catch, Giants head coach elected to kick the extra point, making the score 28-25.
Both teams failed to score before the start of the final quarter. And at the start of the final 15 minutes both quarterbacks committed turnovers, first with Winston throwing a pass behind Evans that was intercepted by Giants linebacker Ryan Connelly. And just two plays after the interception, Jones was stripped by Barrett, for his fourth sack with the fumble recovery made by defensive lineman Rakeem-Nunez-Roches.
Starting with good field position, Tampa Bay used the running game to get into field position to get another field goal by Gay, his fourth of the game from 23 yards away, giving the Buccaneers a six point lead.
The teams exchanged punts & with under 4 minutes left in the game, New York got their final possession & were able to move the football into Tampa Bay territory, with Jones throwing for 68 yards. Then on a fourth & five play from the seven yard line, the rookie quarterback scrambled up a wide open middle of the field for the touchdown, his second rushing touchdown of the game, making the score 32-31.
Trailing for the first time in the game, Tampa Bay got the ball back with just under 90 seconds left in the game. And two plays after a 20 yard reception by wide receiver Chris Godwin, Winston hit Evans, who beat one on one coverage for a 44 yard pass play, setting up the game-winning field goal attempt, which Gay missed wide right.
Tampa Bay will look to rebound from the loss when they travel to Los Angeles & take on the Rams next Sunday at 4:05 pm.