Last week in New Orleans, Eli Manning had one of the best games of his career as he threw six touchdowns in a loss to the Saints. This week things did not go as smoothly for him, but the Giants were still able to win the game 32-18, getting to 5-4 before next week's matchup with the undefeated New England Patriots.
The first pass Manning threw was intercepted by Sterling Moore, who took it into the red zone. Just like that, Tampa Bay was in business. But the Giants held and made the Buccaneers settle for a field goal. The Giants came right back and drove 63 yards for a field goal to tie the game. Tampa Bay drove 70 yards on their next drive to the Giants 10, and had to settle for another field goal, which made it 6-3 Tampa Bay.
Finally, the Giants found the end zone as they drove 80 yards and Manning hooked up with Rueben Randle for an eight yard touchdown on third and five. On the first play of the second quarter, Doug Martin fumbled and Johnathan Hankins got on it for the Giants, setting them up at the Bucs 28. The Giants took nine plays but found the end zone as Manning threw his second touchdown, this one to Shane Vereen to make it 17-6 Giants. Before the half, Tampa Bay got it deep into Giants territory, driving down to the three yard line. But the red zone woes continued as the Bucs had to settle for another field goal to make it 17-9 going into half.
Tampa Bay got the ball first in the second half, and Jasper Brinkley forced a fumble from Charles Sims and Trevin Wade recovered for the Giants. From there the Giants could not get a first down but got a field goal to make it 20-9. Tampa Bay kicked another field goal to make it a one possession game at 20-12, and then found the end zone as Jameis Winston capped an 87 yard drive with a 10 yard touchdown run. The two point conversion failed and it remained 20-18. The Giants got field goals on their next two possessions to make it 26-18, but the Bucs had one last chance with 18 seconds to go from their own six yard line. On the last play of the game Wade recovered a fumble in the end zone to put the cherry on the top of this one, making it 32-18.
Manning finished with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Of his 213 passing yards, 105 went to Odell Beckham. In his much anticipated return, Jason Pierre-Paul had two tackles and two quarterback hits. Mike Evans joined Beckham with over 100 receiving yards, with 152 on eight catches. The two teams ran for a combined 250 yards, with Tampa Bay racking up 136 of them. Sims led all rushers with 78 yards, including a 59 yard run. Tampa Bay outgained the Giants 385 to 327 in the game but committed three turnovers to just two from the Giants.
Next week the Giants will host the Patriots in a game that will draw much intrigue just because of the two recent Super Bowl matchups between the two. However if the Giants cannot generate a pass rush then it could be a long day for that defense. Rushing the passer will be harder for the Giants because they lost Hankins with a pectoral injury, which has sidelined some players for the rest of the season in the past. The Giants will be waiting with baited breath at the results of the tests to come this week. But this writer highly doubts he will be on the field next week.
At 3-5, Tampa Bay is still hanging around in the wild card chase in the NFC South. The New Orleans Saints lost today and the Atlanta Falcons have lost three of four and are in free fall. At just 2.5 games back of the Falcons and with a 2-1 division record, the Buccaneers aren't out of it yet. Next week will be crucial as they host the Dallas Cowboys in a game they must win if they are to have any hope of making a playoff run.