The Tampa Bay Buccaneers laid an egg early in New York, looking lethargic and unprepared from the start of Monday night’s game against the Giants.
Against a team that it should have beat by 20, the Bucs hung on late to escape MetLife Stadium with a 25-23 victory.
It was a win Tampa probably didn’t deserve, and one Mike Evans admits in past years it would have lost.
“It means a lot,” Evans said of pulling out the ugly win, via the team’s official transcript. “In the past we would’ve found a way to lose a game like that. The defense made a play when it counted [and the] offense picked it up in the second half and found a way to win.”
Learning how to win when you don’t play your best is what good teams do.
The difference in past years is obvious: Tom Brady. The QB didn’t make the big mental error when his team struggled to move the ball that could have turned a small deficit into a blowout.
The Bucs got down 14-3 late in the first half after the Giants marched down the field and scored with under two minutes left in the second quarter. Brady led a field-goal drive to end the half. Then the defense forced a Daniel Jones interception that Tampa turned into a TD to recapture the lead. Another interception led to a second TD. And Antoine Winfield Jr. made a play on the two-point try to seal the win.
The Bucs offense struggled to consistently move the ball, with the ground game mostly nullified by the Giants and Chris Godwin’s replacements struggling to find a rapport with Brady. Tampa was outgained by New York 357-344 on the night.
The Tampa defense surprisingly didn’t obliterate a faulty offensive line, giving Jones time in the pocket, and the back end let several receivers scamper free deep.
The game could have been a blowout early against a better opponent.
No team plays flawlessly for 16 games. The best ones find a way to make just enough plays to win on a day they’re playing poorly. The Bucs did so against a bad Giants team Monday night. The result is a 6-2 record and remaining atop the NFC South.
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