Hell, that was close.
Bucs 25 – Giants 23
Despite their best efforts, the Bucs managed to avoid giving away the game to the G-men, who came into Tampa carrying an 0-3 record and a season that might be on its way toward oblivion. Nobody wants to be the one to surrender a first victory to a team struggling like that, and for a while we were looking at the potential upset of the day.
Quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense certainly were clicking against a beleaguered Giants defense. Winston completed 22 of 38 passes for 330+ yards, including three touchdowns. Additionally, he threw no interceptions. The running game saw some improvement from last week’s dismal performance, notching 111 yards on 23 carries, including four of those by Winston for 12 yards. But it was Jacquizz Rodgers shouldering most of the load, collecting 83 yards on 16 of those 23 rushing attempts.
By itself, this was more than enough to secure a win, but for those of you just joining football already in progress, there’s this pesky other side of the ball. Tampa’s defense allowed Eli Manning and the New York offense to hang around far, far longer than they deserved. The Bucs got very little in the way of penetration, only getting close enough to hit Manning a couple of times. They weren’t able to force any turnovers, and allowed nearly 100 yards rushing while letting Manning throw for 280+ yards and two TDs. Just to rub salt in the Tampa running defense, even Manning–whose 40-yard dash is best clocked with an egg timer–ran for a score. It wasn’t pretty, but it was good for six points. Ouch.
What looked to be Tampa’s ultimate undoing was in the kicking game, with placekicker Nick Folk missing two field goals and an extra point in the early going. This allowed the Giants to lurk and linger long enough to take a 23-22 lead late in the game, necessitating a last-ditch drive by Winston and the Bucs offense in order to snatch back the victory that was slipping away. Folk was able to get back into his groove in the game’s final seconds, launching the winning field goal as the last second ticked away.
The win moves the Bucs to 2-1 while still holding on to third place in the NFC South Division. They’re a precious half game ahead of the New Orleans Saints, who are rolling after winning two in a row. Carolina and Atlanta are scrapping at the top of the pile, with each team sitting at 3-1. So, the division’s a damned mosh pit. You know…the usual.
Next up? The Bucs need to bring their A-game and bring it fast, because they’re slotted to host the New England Patriots in prime time this coming Thursday night. Now, the Pats are currently sitting at 2-2, but those of you familiar with the sport know they kinda sorta know how to play the game. Here’s hoping Tampa shows ’em how it’s done way down south. I wish I could be there, because it could end up being a hell of a lot of fun.
Bucs life, amirite?