The Buccaneers, after trailing 14-3 in the first half, rallied to beat the Giants 25-23 on "Monday Night Football." Tampa Bay had to sweat to get its sixth win, as rookie defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. broke up Daniel Jones' two-point pass that would have tied the game with 28 seconds left.
Tampa Bay parlayed two second-half interceptions of Jones into 10 points. Tom Brady's third quarter touchown pass to Rob Gronkowski gave the Buccaneers their first lead. Tampa Bay, after a Giants field goal, re-gained the lead on Brady's eight-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 9:02 left. The Giants' defense, which played well for most of the night, gave their team a chance to tie the score after holding the Buccaneers to a field goal on their next drive.
Jones, who engineered three Giants scoring drives earlier in the game, completed two clutch fourth down passes before hitting Golden Tate for an 18-yard score that brought the Giants to within two points of the Buccaneers. Jones, who hit Dion Lewis for a touchdown in the first quarter, was unable to connect with Lewis again on the Giants' two-point attempt, as the Buccaneers escaped with their sixth win of the season.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Monday's Bucs win:
Why the Buccaneers won
As the Giants cooled down, the Bucs heated up, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Despite a slow start, in which Tom Brady and Co. settled for three straight field goals and couldn't muster much with Ronald Jones on the ground, Bruce Arians' squad flashed its weaponry -- sans an injured Chris Godwin and in-waiting Antonio Brown, remember -- just enough. Brady rarely wowed but did a tremendous job spreading the ball all over the field in the second half, with eight different targets hauling in at least two passes. Mike Evans came up big with a highlight-reel score. And Leonard Fournette ran hard despite just average numbers. Defensively, Todd Bowles' unit may have looked a lot worse if Daniel Jones had simply taken advantage of several one-on-one mismatches, and it nearly surrendered a last-minute lead, but still capitalized on Jones' errant throws to come up with two important takeaways.
Why the Giants lost
As is often the case when evaluating Giants games, it's hard to say Daniel Jones was the only reason New York lost, because he did have some athletic and gutsy plays in key spots, pulling the G-Men within two points on a thrilling final drive. Far too often, however, he was also the one holding New York's offense back. Jason Garrett's play-calling didn't do him a ton of favors, but Garrett also wasn't responsible for outright missing on a handful of wide-open deep shots, forcing outside throws under pressure and waiting way too long to deliver the potential game-tying two-point pass that ended up sealing the Bucs' win. Again, he wasn't alone; Garrett inexplicably called upon Alfred Morris for eight valuable touches, and Sterling Shepard appeared to misjudge a would-be TD route. But this wasn't on the defense, which played tough, got after Brady and held firm when it needed to. It was mostly on a QB who flashed but ultimately failed to do enough of the little things to deserve the win.
Second down. Second play from scrimmage in the second half. The Giants began their first third-quarter series all the way out at their own 44-yard line after a big Dion Lewis kick return, with a real chance at extending a surprise 14-6 lead at the break. And then Ugly Daniel Jones reared his head, with the QB forcing a pass to Sterling Shepard while under pressure and essentially gifting Carlton Davis the first turnover of the game. Tampa Bay proceeded to pull within five on its next drive, then went ahead on its subsequent series. The Giants eventually regained the lead, but by that point, they'd already squandered a chance to go up big.
Play of the game
For as frustrating as he was, Daniel Jones actually made quite a few nice throws down the stretch, including on multiple third- and fourth-down spots. But the play of the day belongs to Mike Evans on the other side. For a big guy, he moved and landed perfectly to secure Brady's second TD of the night and put the Bucs up five late in the contest.
The Buccaneers (6-2) will be back in prime time in six days, when they play host to their rival New Orleans Saints (5-2) on "Sunday Night Football." The Giants (1-7), meanwhile, will hit the road in Week 9 for an NFC East matchup with the Washington Football Team (2-5).