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DEFENSIVE LINE After allowing Buffalo to produce 200-plus yards via the ground game last week, Tampa Bay set out to halt a New York ground attack that had struggled heading into Sunday's contest. It didn't take long for the Giants' previously potent ground attack to snap out of its funk, evidenced by the fact that New York had 100 yards rushing on 15 carries (6.6 avg.) with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, and produced 226 yards rushing (4.6 avg.) vs. the Bucs.
On the opening drive of the game, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs, who was averaging 3.3 yards per carry heading into the game, carried the ball six times for 32 yards and capped off a 12-play, 80-yard drive with his 6-yard TD run. New York's big and physical offensive line dominated in the trenches and made it look easy at times, including Jacobs' TD run where he reached the end zone untouched. New York's change-of-pace back, Ahmad Bradshaw, added a 12-yard run on his only carry of the opening drive. By the time New York's opening drive reached the end zone, the Giants had rushed for 46 yards on seven carries.
New York built on that success two series later when Bradshaw ripped off a 38-yard run down the right side of the field thanks to missed tackles by defensive tackle Chris Hovan and safety Will Allen. Bucs defensive end Tim Crowder made the touchdown-saving tackle on the third-and-1 run by Bradshaw, which put the Giants inside the Bucs' 10-yard line. New York eventually punched the ball in for a score to go up 14-0.
The Giants finished the first half with 215 yards of offense, including 135 yards rushing (5.9 avg.) and one score.
New York continued to run the ball effectively vs. Tampa Bay in the second half. Even Manning scrambled 9 yards for a first down on a third-and-8 play in Giants territory. While the Giants ran the football well on that series, Manning capped off the 12-play, 72-yard drive with a great 18-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to wide receiver Sinorice Moss, which gave New York a 24-0 lead.
Manning, Jacobs, Bradshaw and Co. were pulled early in the fourth quarter. Bradshaw and Jacobs rushed for 96 and 92 yards, respectively. Bradshaw averaged 7.3 yards per carry while Jacobs averaged 3.5 yards per attempt. The Giants totaled 226 yards rushing on 49 carries (4.6 avg.) and one touchdown.
Despite having Manning drop back to throw 24 times, Tampa Bay's defense failed to produce an effective pass rush for the third straight game. Bucs defensive end Gaines Adams notched the team's only two quarterback hurries of the game, and finished the contest with one tackle for a loss.
Bucs left end Jimmy Wilkerson led Tampa Bay's D-line with five tackles. Bucs backup DE Tim Crowder and defensive tackle Chris Hovan each had four tackles. Defensive linemen Roy Miller, Ryan Sims and Stylez G. White each notched three tackles.
LINEBACKERS Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud recorded a team-high 14 tackles vs. the Giants on Sunday, but this unit didn't help Tampa Bay's defense limit New York's ground attack, which was the main reason why the Giants managed to convert 10-of-16 (63 percent) of their third down attempts vs. the Bucs.
Tampa Bay's linebackers didn't have as many missed tackles as it did vs. Buffalo last week, but it still had its fair share. This group actually defended Manning's screen passes quite well, but this group struggled a few times to cover New York tight end Kevin Boss.
Early in the third quarter, Manning completed a pass down the left seam to Boss on a first-and-15 play, gaining 24 yards down to the Bucs' 12-yard line. Manning did a nice job of placing the ball right over LB Quincy Black, who trailed Boss on the play. Boss finished the game with two catches for 27 yards. The Giants capped off that 12-play, 64-yard drive with a 26-yard field goal, which put New York up 17-0.
Bucs weakside linebacker Geno Hayes had five tackles, including one tackle for a loss. He was not used as much as a blitzer as he was in the first two games of the season. Bucs backup LB Adam Hayward also added one tackle.
SECONDARY Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a comfortable pocket to throw out of throughout Sunday's game, including on New York's opening drive, which went 12 plays for 80 yards and a touchdown. Manning completed 4-of-5 passes for 34 yards while facing third down situations just twice on that series.
Manning's favorite target on the opening drive and throughout the game was wide receiver Steve Smith, who hauled in three passes for 33 yards, including an 8-yarder vs. Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber for a first down on third-and-6. New York's opening drive should have ended with a turnover, but Manning's dangerous pass sailed through CB Aqib Talib's hands and into Smith's at Tampa Bay's 32-yard line.
However, on the second drive of the game with the Giants facing third-and-5, Talib did a nice job of defending a pass thrown across the middle by Manning for WR Mario Manningham, which resulted in an incompletion and led to a punt.
But Manning rebounded on the next drive, completing all of his pass attempts to Manningham and Smith. However, the play of this particular drive was Bradshaw's 38-yard run that came courtesy of two missed tackles by defensive tackle Chris Hovan and safety Will Allen, who started in place of Jermaine Phillips. Bucs defensive end Tim Crowder made the touchdown-saving tackle, but Manning capped off the seven-play, 67-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Smith on a third-and-goal play. That score put the Giants up 14-0.
Manning finished the first half strong, completing a key third-and-9 pass to Manningham on a slant vs. Bucs CB Elbert Mack. That play put the Giants inside the Bucs' 20-yard line. Bucs safety Sabby Piscitelli made a key third down tackle on Jacobs behind the line of scrimmage to force the Giants to kick a 21-yard field goal, which they missed, keeping the score at 14-0.
Manning finished the first half 9-of-17 for 80 yards. He had at least three passes dropped by his receivers in the first half alone. Despite those dropped passes, New York was 6-of-10 (60 percent) on third down attempts.
Things didn't get much better for the Bucs in the second half. Manning completed a 20-yard pass to Manningham across the middle on a third-and-12 play near midfield. Allen missed another tackle on the play. In addition to that missed tackle, Barber was later called for illegal hands to the face penalty, which gave the Giants an automatic first down at the Bucs' 31-yard line. The Giants capped off that 12-play, 64-yard drive with 26-yard field goal, which put New York up 17-0.
Manning engineered another 12-play scoring drive, which started late in the third quarter and worked its way into the fourth quarter. Manning capped off the 12-play, 72-yard drive with an impressive 18-yard TD throw to WR Sinorice Moss, who had a step on Talib down the right sideline. That score put the Giants up 24-0.
The Giants, who had 397 yards of total offense and dominated the Bucs in time of possession, 43:38 to 16:22, pulled Manning early in the fourth quarter with the 24-0 lead. He completed 14-of-24 passes (58.3 percent) for 161 yards and tossed two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Smith led the Giants in receptions with seven for 63 yards and one score. Manningham had four catches for 55 yards.
The Bucs had just two passes defensed vs. the Giants, and one of those was notched by linebacker Geno Hayes. Allen led Tampa Bay's secondary in tackles with nine, but missed a few as well. Bucs S Sabby Piscitelli added five tackles with one for a loss. Talib and Barber recorded three and two tackles, respectively. Mack added one tackle.
SPECIAL TEAMS Bucs punter Dirk Johnson had a busy day thanks to Tampa Bay's inept offense. Johnson punted seven times for 311 yards (44.4 avg.). He had a long of 58, but didn't place any of his punts inside New York's 20-yard line.
Bucs second-year return specialist Clifton Smith averaged 13.7 yards per punt return and had a 20-yarder. Smith also had a 30-yard kickoff return, and averaged 28 yards per attempt on two tries.
Tampa Bay's special teams coverage units did a nice job vs. New York. Ahmad Bradshaw averaged 9.8 yards per punt return on four attempts. Bucs wide receiver Brian Clark led the way with a team-high three tackles on special teams.
COACHING Tampa Bay was dominated in every phase of Sunday's game, which led to a 24-0 loss to New York at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs spent all week preparing for the 2-0 Giants, but didn't look prepared at all.
The Bucs offense, which lost the time of possession 16:22 to 43:38, struggled mightily, producing just 86 yards vs. the Giants. Tampa Bay didn't earn a first down until less than five minutes remained in the third quarter, and the team was 0-for-9 on third down attempts.
Defensively, it was more of the same problems for Tampa Bay. The Bucs were dominated in the trenches and allowed the Giants to rush for 226 yards on 49 carries (4.6 avg.) and one touchdown. The Bucs reduced the number of missed tackles they had a week ago, but this area still needs to get cleaned up. Tampa Bay had just two quarterback hurries and two passes defenses vs. quarterback Eli Manning, who tossed two touchdown passes vs. the Bucs en route to helping New York produce 397 yards of offense.
The Bucs had five penalties for 25 yards vs. the Giants.