While it wasn’t a perfect performance offensively, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed to do what they needed to in their 30-10 win over the Giants at Raymond James Stadium on Monday night Football.
Tampa Bay didn’t run the ball especially well, and Mike Evans had a strange drop that led to a Tom Brady “interception” (if we can even call it that), but the defense stepped up in a major way, taking advantage of the Giants’ inexplicably awful offensive line and poor decision making by quarterback Daniel Jones.
The Bucs forced Jones to throw a pair of head-scratcher interceptions by applying pressure all game and racking up a pair of sacks plus nine QB hits. The secondary wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t need to be against a Giants offense that struggled to move the ball all game. Truth be told, Tampa Bay only really allowed 3 points, as the Giants’ lone touchdown came following the aforementioned interception, which set the Giants’ offense up inside the Bucs 10-yard line early in the game.
After that New York touchdown, the Bucs looked totally in control for the rest of the game.
The Giants then allowed the Bucs to finish the game out by scoring 20 unanswered points including a third quarter Tom Brady TD to Evans (giving the wideout sole possession of first place on the Bucs’ touchdowns list with his 72 endzone grabs) and Ronald Jones III’s second rushing TD of the season.
Leonard Fournette had an unusually quiet game for Tampa Bay, with only 74 yards from scrimmage on 16 touches, but the rest of the Bucs’ playmakers showed up, with Evans, Godwin and the newly returned Rob Gronkowski each hauling in six receptions and at least 60 yards receiving.
Brady submitted a quiet 307 yard performance with a couple touchdowns, but the highlight of the game was certainly his second quarter 10-yard “scramble” for a first down, which led to a Ryan Succop field goal (one of 3 made by my favorite Buccaneer).
But let’s look at the big picture, because this game was a bit of a dud. The Bucs now move to 7-3, which looks a lot better than 6-4, especially considering the stretch of games coming up against the surging Colts and the ever-dangerous Bills. The good news though, is that with this victory, the Bucs can afford a couple losses, especially since two of the top teams in the NFC (the Packers and Cowboys) took home losses this weekend.
Let’s assume the Bucs lose to the Saints again, and maybe split those games with the Colts and the Bills. That just leaves two games against NFC South nemesis the Carolina Panthers. If Tampa Bay splist those games with Carolina (a distinct possibility, as Carolina is a very tough team), TB12 & co. end up 11-6. An 11-6 record doesn’t get them a top seed in the NFC, but it gives the Bucs at least a Wild Card spot, and more than likely a division title.
And that’s if we’re being stingy with the Bucs’ performance towards the end of the season. Taking last year as a sign of things to come, and the hopeful return of some key players like Carlton Davis and Vita Vea, the Bucs could finish the season on a tear, giving the side enough momentum to carry it into the playoffs.
For once, I’m cautiously optimistic. Monday night certainly wasn’t a statement game, as the Giants are one of the worst teams in football, but it was at least a return to normalcy.
Hopefully Tampa Bay’s no. 1 rush defense in the NFL can stop the hottest man in football in Colts running back Jonathan Taylor next Sunday afternoon in Indy.
For now, fire those cannons, and we can all relax and watch some shitty football on Thanksgiving.
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