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It’s time for PewterReport.com’s 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game. Tampa Bay ventured to New York to take on the hapless Giants, who had just one win coming into Monday night, but wound up with a fight on its hands. The Bucs trailed at halftime 14-6, but prevailed thanks to two Tom Brady touchdown passes in the second half and a pass break up by rookie safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. on Giants’ two-point conversion attempt. The Bucs escape from New York with a 6-2 record thanks to a 25-23 victory.

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1. 6-2 Bucs Show Growth In Ugly Win

Last week I said these Brady-led Bucs looked super following a 45-20 blowout win over the Raiders in Las Vegas. This week Tampa Bay played down to the level of its opponent, the one-win Giants, and escaped New York with a dramatic, 25-23 victory to improve to 6-2 on the year. This was an ugly win, but it was a win nonetheless and kept Tampa Bay ahead of New Orleans – its next foe on Sunday Night Football – in the NFC South.

Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr. – Photo by: USA Today

The Bucs didn’t play up to their potential, but found a way to come back and win in the second half after trailing 14-6 at halftime. After taking a 25-17 lead late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Daniel Jones led the Giants on a potential game-tying touchdown drive with 15 seconds left, converting two fourth downs in the process. But rookie safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. broke up a two-point conversion pass to Dion Lewis to preserve the win.

An official threw a flag on Winfield for pass interference, but after huddling together with other refs the flag was picked up and there was no foul on the play.

“The ball hit Antoine in the back,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said. “To me, it was no pass interference. I thought it was a good call. I don’t know why it took so long. He had his hands out, there was no contact and the ball hit him in the back.”

After Tampa Bay recovered an onside kick attempt, the Bucs boarded their plane with a big sigh of relief.

“The last time we had a close call, we lost,” Arians said, referencing his team’s 20-19 loss at Chicago on Thursday Night Football a few weeks ago. “This one we won, so we draw on something as a team. It wasn’t our best effort, but it was enough to win.”

After being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, Tom Brady had a lousy start to the month of November. Brady was off at the beginning of the game, overthrowing several receivers and targeting reserve receiver Jaydon Mickens five times and hitting him just twice for 11 yards. Meanwhile, Mike Evans was targeted just three times and had one catch for 14 yards at halftime.

Brady was a pedestrian 10-of-17 for 79 yards before the final drive at the end of the second quarter. He was just 16-of-24 for 132 yards in the first half, but was better in the third quarter, completing 7-of-10 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski that gave Tampa Bay a 15-14 lead after a missed two-point conversion pass.

Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski

Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski – Photo by: USA Today

That touchdown was the 93rd such scoring connection between Brady and Gronkowski, moving them ahead of Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice (92), and trailing only Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (114). And that touchdown tied Drew Brees for the all-time passing TD mark with 560. Brady, who finished 28-of-40 for 279 yards, would surpass Brees with number 561 with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Evans in the fourth quarter to give the Bucs a 25-17 lead. Evans, who has had his battles with cornerback James Bradberry dating back to his days in Carolina, finished the game with five catches for 55 yards and drew a critical pass interference penalty on Bradberry in the fourth quarter.

The difference in this game was that Brady protected the ball and didn’t have a turnover, while Jones threw two second half interceptions to cornerbacks Carlton Davis III and Sean Murphy-Bunting. Davis recorded his team-leading fourth pick of the year, while Murphy-Bunting notched his first INT of the season. Pressure from outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett played a role in Jones’ two costly interceptions.

“He caused both of them,” Arians said of Pierre-Paul. “His numbers aren’t the same [as 2019], but he’s getting a lot of push. He had the quarterback in the grass both times. The young quarterback (Jones) – he’s still trying to do too much. When you’re in the grass with those guys, it cost them basically the ballgame throwing those two picks. God bless him – he is hard to handle and he’s a kid that thinks he can make a play.”

Bucs kicker Ryan Succop was the unsung hero of the night, connecting on all four of his field goal attempts to improve to 88 percent on the season and making his lone extra point attempt, as Tampa Bay’s offense bogged down too often, especially in the first half.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

“We just didn’t play anywhere near the way we’re capable of playing,” Brady said. “Execution – that’s all it comes down to. We need to execute a lot better. I had guys open that I missed and I’ve got to hit those guys that are open.”

Arians agrees with Brady that the team needs to execute better – especially on Sunday night when the Bucs battle the Saints in a highly anticipated rematch.

“Monday Night Football has always been so exciting. To lay around all day – I’ve never driven to the Meadowlands and the scene is empty. We did not find energy fast enough. We got kicked in the mouth and credit Joe Judge – he had his team ready. They played their tails off. But, we made enough plays to win the game and you never apologize for winning.”

STATEMENT 2. Bucs Defense Made The Plays When It Counted

It was not a sterling night for Todd Bowles’ unit, but the Bucs defense came up with some big plays when it mattered the most. Interceptions by Davis and Murphy-Bunting were clutch in the second half, and Winfield’s heroic pass break up sealed the Bucs’ win.

While Barrett didn’t record a sack, his two quarterback pressures were key in forcing Jones to throw those interceptions. Meanwhile Jason Pierre-Paul did get to Jones in his return to New York, notching his 6.5 sack of the season, which leads the Bucs. Pierre-Paul was tied for the team lead with seven tackles along with Winfield, cornerback Jamel Dean, who had an off night, safety Jordan Whitehead and linebacker Devin White.

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: USA Today

Pierre-Paul also had a pressure that led to a sack by Ndamukong Suh, who now has four on the year, and White recorded the team’s first sack on Monday night and notched his fifth QB capture in three weeks.

Knowing that the Bucs aren’t that big in the front seven without Vita Vea and with the Giants struggling to pass protect, New York used two tight end sets often to help establish a surprisingly effective ground game and control the line of scrimmage. Tampa Bay had the No. 1 ranked run defense and entered the game allowing just 66 yards per game on the ground. The Bucs gave up 63 yards rushing in the first half alone, but played better against the run in the second half and finished by allowing 101 yards on the night.

“Defensively, I don’t like to see people run the ball on us, but we made the plays that counted,” Arians said.

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Who Did The Bucs Miss More – Godwin Or Vea?

Tough call, but I’ll go with Chris Godwin. Yet, let’s talk about the Bucs missing Vita Vea first.

The Giants ran the ball surprisingly well on Monday night, especially up the middle where Tampa Bay truly Vea, the team’s big nose tackle, for the first time this season. Even with rookie Shane Lemieux starting at guard in place of Will Hernandez, the Giants were able to run the ball up the gut right at defensive tackles Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Steve McLendon, who are both undersized, especially compared to the 347-pound Vea. The Giants outgained the Bucs on the ground 101 yards to 81, with Wayne Gallman leading the way with 44 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries (3.7 avg.).

Bucs WR Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

But the Bucs offense seems to stall and underwhelm whenever Godwin isn’t in the lineup. Godwin was absent in Week 2 when Tampa Bay beat Carolina in a game that was closer than the 31-17 score would indicate. And of course the Bucs missed Godwin terribly in their 20-19 loss at Chicago on Thursday Night Football.

Jaydon Mickens played the “F” receiver role that Godwin plays and came up with a career-high five catches for 36 yards, including a clutch fourth down conversion, but Mickens is no Godwin. Tampa Bay hopes that Godwin, who broke a finger in last week’s win at Las Vegas, can play on Sunday Night Football against New Orleans. The Bucs need Godwin.

QUESTION 2: Do You See Why The Bucs Signed WR Brown?

Absolutely. It might stink from a character standpoint, as Antonio Brown is not a good dude and has a civil suit pending, but this offense needs his play-making ability for the final eight games of the season.

Bucs WR Antonio Brown

Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Without Chris Godwin in the lineup this offense simply bogs down too much. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich deserved a healthy share of the blame on Monday night, running the ball too much in predictable situations like first down against the Giants’ strength – their interior defensive tackles. Without Godwin in the game, Leftwich’s offense has struggled to find its rhythm too often.

As well as Jaydon Mickens, Scotty Miller and rookie Tyler Johnson have played in spurts, none of them has the ability or experience that Brown does. Adding Brown was a mercenary move by Tampa Bay, but it’s a move that just might pay off if he can rein in his behavior and just play football to help the Bucs win.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: Fournette Will Continue To Outperform Jones

For the second straight game, Leonard Fournette outgained and outperformed Ronald Jones II, the Bucs’ starting running back. Fournette rushed for 52 yards on 15 carries (3.5 avg.) and had three catches for 19 yards, while Jones had 23 yards on seven carries (3.3 avg.) and four receptions for 23 yards.

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: USA Today

Jones had a huge gaffe in the first half, fumbling the ball after a catch at the Tampa Bay 12-yard line after a big hit from Giants middle linebacker Blake Martinez. Three plays later, New York took a 7-3 lead on a 7-yard reception by Dion Lewis.

Last week in Las Vegas, Fournette had 50 yards on 11 carries (4.5 avg.) while Jones was held to 34 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries (2.6 avg.). Fournette also chipped in 47 yards receiving on six catches against the Raiders, while Jones had just one catch for two yards. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs keep turning to Fournette now that he’s healthy.

PREDICTION 2: Brown Scores A TD On Sunday Night

New Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown will make his Tampa Bay debut on Sunday night as the New Orleans Saints come to town in an NFC South rematch from Week 1. Brown has been staying at Tom Brady’s house and there is no doubt that Brady played a role in getting Brown in Bucs red and pewter.

Bucs WR Antonio Brown and QB Tom Brady

Bucs WR Antonio Brown and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

The fact that the two Bucs are bunking together leads me to believe that Brady will be looking for Brown a decent bit on Sunday night. In their lone game together last year in New England, Brady targeted Brown eight times and the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver had four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. I predict Brown catches a touchdown against the Saints in his Tampa Bay debut.

Will the Bucs win and beat the Saints? Well, I’m not quite ready to make that prediction just yet.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy(@eastendboy)
1 year ago

You may be right about Fournette getting more carries, but saying that 3.5 ypc is outperforming 3.3ypc is like saying Ralph Malph had more luck with the ladies than Potsy…maybe, but not by much and neither was in the class Fonzie for sure.

Pete Wood
Pete Wood(@littlebrownjug)
Reply to  EastEndBoy
1 year ago

Potsie got more dates than Ralph. No contest.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  EastEndBoy
1 year ago

Fournette simply has better hands than RoJo, that is the main difference, making him a three down back whereas RoJo isn’t due to his hands of stone.

RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  EastEndBoy
1 year ago

The Oline got pushed around on their run blocking. Couldn’t open any holes.

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
Reply to  RW
1 year ago

Totally agreed. Keeping running to the left side, keep getting stuffed

Pete Wood
Pete Wood(@littlebrownjug)
1 year ago

My bold predictions.

  1. Bucs beat Saints Sunday and Brown is the top receiver.
  2. See some more aggressive offensive play calling. Less runs up the middle on first down.
RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  Pete Wood
1 year ago

Brees is going to short pass the Bucs D to death. Brown will be a huge difference maker. Close game but Bucs squeeze one out.

fredster
fredster(@fredster)
1 year ago

Bold prediction 1: The Bucs will struggle running ball regardless who the RB is until O line run blocks better and more consistently. Fournette and Jones don’t suck.
Bold prediction 2: The Bucs rebound to put a beat down on Saints Sunday and AB will be involved. I don’t like him either but this offense struggles with Godwin out period. We see it and better believe coaches do.

Last edited 1 year ago by fredster
chefboho
chefboho(@chefboho)
Reply to  fredster
1 year ago

Not running up the middle on first down every time? That really is a bold prediction lol

Horse
Horse(@horse)
1 year ago

This game for me is about the Defense on both sides. Both teams understand this is a must win. Both teams have lost their best DT and neither will be playing.
Not sure if Brown will be as effective in his first start since it has been 14 months. If I’m the Bucs, I’m singing the praises about Brown and hope they drink the cool aid so it opens up other areas of opportunity.

twspin
twspin(@twspin)
1 year ago

Bucs got lucky last night. Anybody who knows crowd influence on refs know..Had that NYG stadium been full last night, that last call would have gone the Giants way. Bucs lucked out and got the benefit of the doubt.I was not impressed by our D line or O line in the 1st half. When we don’t get pressure, teams have a field day completing passes on us. This kind of performance against them Ain’ts will not get it. The saints know how to win close games. Better be ready Bucs.

Pete Wood
Pete Wood(@littlebrownjug)
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

Good teams make their own luck. Bucs never doubted they’d win that game. That’s why we won. Remember when Bucs lost to the Pats in Tampa a few seasons back and it kinda killed our whole season? Bucs were unlucky, because they led most of the game. Pats didn’t earn the win. Blah blah blah. Pats had faith in themselves back then. Bucs did not. And Pats had Brady.
I think the win last night was huge. Any other year, Bucs lose that game.

RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  twspin
1 year ago

The only good thing about playing the Saints is that Brees has trouble throwing the long ball. Bucs will give up a lot of completions and 1st downs to Brees but should keep them around 24 pts. Bucs O will be much better than their first meeting and score over 30. Brady will have a big game with around 350 yards passing.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
1 year ago

Again as I posted in other threads, this was not an “ugly win”. We had few penalties, just one give away while we had two take-aways, didn’t have a lot of missed tackles, our receivers made some great plays on the ball, while Brady actually had a very good night with 28/40 passing (70% completion) for 279 yards and two TDs and no INTs and a 106 passer rating, again taking the all time TD pass record back from Brees. What happened is that we played a team that plays much better than its 1-7 record suggests, with more half… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Note – the Bucs committed only three penalties for a total of 20 yards in the game last night .. the so-called “ugly game”. Whereas the Giants committed 7 for 73 yards. Note also that the Giants defense, despite their 1-7 won loss record, is still ranked the 14th best defense in points allowed this season. And again, as I wrote above, Brady had a better than average game this season with a 106 passer rating, three points above his season average PR. Two sacks on Brady – more than he’d been getting sacked the last several games, but still… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Naplesfan
scubog
scubog(@scubog)
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

Got to agree with you Naples. Too often fans perceive the opponent as inferior or as they say, “lowly”, when in fact all NFL teams are relatively equal physically. But in reality, it’s like Yogi (the baseball player not the cartoon) says, “50% of it is half mental”. You could see the Bucs had very little emotion going into this game as I believe the youngsters came out with a rather blah demeanor while the Giants were prepared to “slay the dragon” as they had done only a year ago. Then the “turning point” when RoJo fumble gave the home… Read more »

RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 year ago

If Bucs O line could have run blocked better a couple of FGs could have ended up as TDs.

The Wall
The Wall(@the-wall)
1 year ago

Scott- The difference in this game was the poor quarterback play of Jones. We are lucky we escaped. It’s hard to give Brady credit for something we expect from him. Hopefully, we can correct some of the weaknesses this game exposed.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan(@naplesfan)
Reply to  The Wall
1 year ago

Brady’s performance was fine … 106 passer rating, 81 QBR (50 is average, 100 is perfection). 70% completion, 279 yards, two TD passes taking the all time league lead in TD passes from Brady, and zero interceptions.

BUC-ASS-BOB
BUC-ASS-BOB(@buc-ass-bob)
1 year ago

Good teams come up with the effort needed to win the close games and Tompa did that !, teamS like bucs of past who are pretty much mathematically eliminated fail in this situation. That said 2 key bonehead mistakes one by jones fumbling the ball for 7 quick points for Giants and Leftwich not kicking point after. Bucs will learn from this game and take teams with bad records more seriously in the future, Giants were close in 5 of there loses this season. They were not a team that gets blown out the loses were always hard fought for… Read more »

76Buc
76Buc(@76buc)
1 year ago

As I posted yesterday, the Bucs traditional play down to their opponents and lose. This time they played down and won-a sign of a good team. However, the Bucs always suck on nationally broadcast games.MNF, SNF, TNF, it doesn’t matter. I remember McKay saying he thought his team set Monday Night Football back 2,000 years.The 2,000 years must not be up!
I hope the Saints game is not on national TV!
We have a kicker!!

Randy H.
Randy H.(@zzdcatc12)
Reply to  76Buc
1 year ago

Uh, the Saints game is SNF, so yeah, that will be national TV—-unless it gets moved because of COVID like the Raiders game was.

RW
RW(@rwp111)
1 year ago

Both lines were underwhelming. Oline couldn’t open any holes and D line couldn’t stop the run well and struggled to get pressure on dropbacks without blitzing. Leftwich’s play calls were puzzling to say the least. Did they even call any screens last night? I like Scotty Miller but he can’t catch the ball in traffic. Brown will be a huge upgrade to this offense.

Eddie
Eddie(@oct62020)
Reply to  RW
1 year ago

I think there was one quick toss play to the right to Fournette that ended very well. But that was it.

fl0nase
fl0nase(@fl0nase)
1 year ago

Rojo is a better, more explosive runner, and runs north south better. He just doesn’t have the hands Fournette does and still making mistakes Fournette won’t. I’m with Ledyard on Fournette’s game. It’s endlessly frustrating to watch such a big back fold like a card table on first contact. Give me Blount back.

Charlie
Charlie(@crossbonesbombs)
1 year ago

Couple things I got beef with this article is, the Bucs O line just didn’t face a Giants front seven that had as much juice as Chicago’s so in my opinion if the Giants had been able to put as much consistent pressure on Brady to go with their coverage on the back end they had, Bucs would lose that game. Also, as much as I agree with Chris Godwin being out dramatically bogs down the offense without having someone stretch the field in the middle horizontally, the impact of losing Vita Vea wasn’t given enough credit…this dude has to… Read more »

RW
RW(@rwp111)
Reply to  Charlie
1 year ago

You make it seem that All Pros like Godwin are easy to replace. Guess what? they are not. The Bucs are incredibly lucky that AB wants to play with Brady and he was available. Otherwise Mickens or someone like him are filling in for Godwin which would be a huge downgrade. And I agree Vea was a big loss.

SenileSenior
SenileSenior(@xpfcwintergreen)
1 year ago

My prediction: Someone will blame Antonio Brown for Tom’s “poor” performance in the Giants game because of the disruption he caused by staying in the Brady home this past week. 😜 😅

_____________________
Go Bucs!!!

Mb Nfl Double Your First Deposit Football Team Vs Bucs Pewter 728x90 Jpg