The kicking struggles and disappointing losses continue for the Buccaneers as they fall short to the Giants in Week 3. The Bucs got off to a fast start in the first half building a 28-10 lead. It looked like it was going to be a comfortable win for the Bucs but due to struggles in the pass defense and conservative play calling in the second half it lead to a shocking loss.
Coming off being NFC Defensive Player of the Week with three sacks, Barrett managed to put up another monster performance against the Giants. He managed to top his three sack performance against the Panthers by recording a total of four sacks and six tackles. It seemed like he was always involved in the play whether it was getting pressure on Daniel Jones or stopping the run. He has had an impressive start to the season with a total of eight sacks in only his first three games as a Buccaneer and continues to show how dominant of a player he is on the field.
It may be a shock to see Mike Evans stats and not think the Bucs came out with a victory. Evans was an absolute mismatch for Giants CB Janoris Jenkins totaling 190 yards receiving with three touchdowns. He was able to create separation from the corner back on almost every route he ran and made it look easy. Surprisingly, in the second half he wasn’t targeted as much until the final drive when he had a key catch to give the Bucs a chance to win with under 10 seconds left. Evans struggled during the first two games of the same due to illness, but he bounced back against the Giants and showed that he’s one of the top receivers in the league.
The defense continues to be a major force against the running game of other offenses. Todd Bowles play calling and defensive line are the main factors in why the run defense has been off to an impressive start. These past two weeks the Bucs have faced two explosive running backs with Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. McCaffrey was held to only 2.3 yards per carry for 37 yards, and Barkley to 1.2 yards per carry for 10 yards. This new revamp of the defensive play calls and defensive line has been off to a quick start and shown how effective it can be against the run.
It was rough game for Matt Gay starting off with the first extra point field goal he missed. The second extra point he missed wasn’t completely his fault since it was blocked but it still proved to be costly for the Bucs. He made the next four field goals in the order of 27, 47, 52 and 23 yards. When the Bucs were counting on him to win being down 32-31 with 4 seconds left, he ended up missing another field goal from 34 yards costing them the game. If he managed to make the first extra point the game most likely would have been tied and led to him not feeling as much pressure. This could’ve been a game changer and confidence builder for Gay to make that final kick to win the game.
During the first half, the defensive backfield had a solid performance and did a great a job in the “bend but don’t break” defensive strategy. Although the Giants were able to build some momentum off passing, the defense was still able to find a way to get off the field and limit them in points. This turned into a completely different story in the second half though when the Bucs kept missing coverage assignments and tackles allowing the Giants to get create big plays. This was the main reason why the Giants were able to get right back into the game after being down 18 points.
Conservative Second Half Play Calling
This is an area where looking back at the game I continue to scratch my head on how the Bucs were held to only 3 points after scoring 28 in the first half. The only part that I agreed with during the play calls is getting the running game more involved which helped take pressure off Winston and run down the clock. However, it seemed like the aggressive plays that resulted in the offense exploding from the start of the game were held back. The lack of deep passes was one of the reasons why the offense was set back and couldn’t get anything going until the final play on offense. Winston connected with Evans for a huge gain to put them in great position to win but unfortunately that wasn’t enough. With Winston being accurate and throwing the ball well the majority of the game, it was surprising to see this change in the offense.