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24 Hours Later: Did the Bucs play down? Or did the Giants rise to the occasion?

The Giants weren’t as bad as we were originally led to believe

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Giants
Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans celebrates after a touchdown with offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs, fellow receiver Tyler Johnson, and quarterback Tom Brady
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled out a narrow victory over the now 1-7 New York Giants. It all came down to a failed 2-Point conversion with only 28-seconds left in the game which some would call highly controversial.

Antoine Winfield Jr. seemed to hit Dion Lewis’ arm just as the ball was reaching him resulting in a flag which was eventually picked up by the officiating crew. It would’ve only tied the game, but nevertheless it was a narrow escape for the Bucs.

So, why are we talking about a team that has one of the worst records in the NFL nearly pulling out a win against one of the best all-around teams in the league?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

I haven’t watched much Giants ball this season, but in all the highlights I’ve seen this is a squad that can actually play. It was a real shame when Saquon Barkley went down as it sent shockwaves across the league. There were high hopes for the entire NFC East this year, but now it’s in total shambles. There’s still some optimism in New York as they continue to rebuild.

The Giants lost three out of their last four by three points or less. Granted, it was a stretch of division rivals that unfortunately don’t look any better than the Giants do, but it does seem that they’re starting to get their footing with their new maestro, Joe Judge.

As I started watching tape of the game, I realized that this Giants team wasn’t as bad as their record had us believe. Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard are both very good receivers. Evan Engram should be considered a top-ten tight end. I also happened to really like Devonta Freeman (although he didn’t play this game).

In all, I think the game was competitive as both teams went back and forth all night. What I didn’t like is the continuous weak zone play from the Bucs’ secondary. The offensive line struggled to protect Brady, and failed to capitalize on key plays and convert on third down.

It was one of those games where you think the Bucs just did not prepare for the current week’s game. A lot of similarity to the week 5 contest against the Chicago Bears. Arians actually admitted they started prepping for the Packers two days before the Bears game.

It just seemed like they had week 8 on lock and jumped ahead to the Saints. Regardless, a win is a win, even as ugly as it was. So, if they did start prepping early, let’s just hope they’re more prepared to come out strong and win next week against the Saints.

It seems like we’re always talking about an early turning point in the game. Usually coming in the form of a turnover.

The RoJo fumble turned the tide early, and the Bucs just couldn’t get their footing under them. Just like we’ve seen before, they allowed the opposing team to score a touchdown first.

This time, I was hoping it was just typical 2020 Buccaneers football. They’ll come back and start marching it down the field and they’ll end up with four or five touchdowns and five sacks on the day, maybe an interception. NOPE!

After the Giants first touchdown, we punted our next two possessions and only scored a second field goal before the half. The former Clemson Tiger Wayne Gallman, their third-string running back, runs in the next score after they marched it all the way down the field. I mean, I’m not going to lie, it was a bit demoralizing to watch.

It’s hard to win when you keep turning the ball over. The Bucs only had the one turnover, but it apparently caused a disturbance in the force. The Bucs lose the lead, they don’t score a touchdown until late in the 3rd quarter. Then RoJo gets benched for the remainder of the game.

This was supposed to be a 20 point blowout against a struggling New York team. The defense has been solid up until now, JPP was smack talking saying he’s going to destroy his former team, and Brady and the offense were firing on all cylinders until now.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Deflated! That’s probably the best way to explain it. The Bucs just looked deflated. If it weren’t for the Evans and Gronk touchdowns, there wouldn’t have been any hope for this team. Rojo was punished for losing the rock, but Fournette wasn’t effective at all. He only had 52 yards on the night and no touchdowns.

They kept running the ball even when they knew it wasn’t being effective. I’m not complaining, they’re running as they should be as much as possible, but not when it stops being effective.

So, back to my original point: The Giants actually looked like a decent team, and the Bucs allowed that! They should have absolutely destroyed them, but there is a major difference from last year. No matter how ugly it is, they are still finding a way to win.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Brady and the Bucs have some tough contests ahead of them before their bye week. This is probably the toughest stretch in all of football right now. Saints, Panthers, Rams, and then they have the Super Bowl LIV Champs, Kansas City Chiefs. The good news is: it’s at home.

Whatever the kinks are, get ‘em out now. Whatever cobwebs need to be dusted out, get ‘em out now. Whatever it takes to shape up, they need to do it quickly. They get through this stretch, it’s smooth sailing after their bye week.