After two tough road losses, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly were happy to be back in the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium, and on Monday night they recaptured their winning ways in a 30-10 win over the New York Giants.
The Giants hung with the Buccaneers for the first half, trailing only 17-10 at the break, with the ball coming their way to start the second half. But New York could not capitalize on their opening drive of the half, with the Bucs taking control after a five-yard touchdown reception by Mike Evans with 7:31 left in the third. That touchdown gave Evans the all-time touchdown record for the Buccaneers with his 72nd, one more than Tampa Bay legend Mike Alstott.
And on New York's next possession, quarterback Daniel Jones gifted an interception to Tampa Bay defensive lineman Steve McClendon in Giants territory; the Buccaneers extending their lead to 17 after a Ryan Succop field goal.
The game marked the return for a couple of New York's more important players, Saquon Barkley and Andrew Thomas, both of whom played well, but it wasn't even close enough to keep up with the talent the Buccaneers have all over their team.
The difference in both teams was clearly evident, as the Giants' offense did not have any sense of rhythm or continuity after falling behind. Contrast that with the Buccaneers' offense, which when they had their opportunities, purred like a smooth engine, taking advantage of a very soft Giants defense, another facet of the team not in the same league as Tampa Bay.
As much as the Giants tried, they could not accomplish much on offense all game, as Tampa Bay's defense stood tall and always happened to be in the right places at the right times. Meanwhile, All of these facts combined to create a garbage-time fourth quarter, with the outcome well in hand for the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers started the game off hot, going 75 yards in eight plays, culminating in an easy 13-yard touchdown from Tom Brady to Chris Godwin. The drive only took 3:57 off the clock, with no third downs. The Giants answered with a 13-play drive that stalled at the Tampa Bay 19, with Graham Gano kicking a 37-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.
Heavy doses of Leonard Fournette swing passes and attacking the soft zone of the Giants helped Brady to complete all nine of his first-quarter passes, as the quarter ended in under 30 minutes of real time. Of course, the Bucs were helped a lot by the Giants shoddy tackling, a trait the team has shown all season. That second possession, which continued into the second quarter, stalled, and Succop got the lead back to a touchdown after a 25-yard field goal.
The Giants then went three-and-out on their second possession, and at that point, it looked like Tampa Bay might be smelling some blood. However, on the first play after the Giants punted, Mike Evans could not hang onto a short pass, and the ball deflected to Giants cornerback Adoree Jackson. Two plays later, the Giants had a big-man touchdown, on a short two-yard pass from Daniel Jones to tackle-eligible Andrew Thomas to tie the game at 10.
But if the Buccaneers weren't shooting themselves in the foot, they could march down the field against the Giants' defense at will. After New York tied the game, Tampa Bay drove right back down the field to take a 17-10 lead on an eight-play drive that ended with a Ronald Jones six-yard touchdown run. During the drive, after a 35-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski, Brady accumulated another record, his 19th season with 3,000 yards passing. He had been tied with Brett Favre with 18.
The Buccaneers are back at it on Sunday, on the road against the dangerous Indianapolis Colts. We will have pregame coverage on Countdown to Kickoff with Tom Krasniqi and Michael Clayton at 11 a.m. here on 95.3 WDAE. Full game coverage will be on our sister station 98ROCK at 1 p.m.
Cover Photo: Getty Images