Football weather is different depending on where you live. In Tampa Bay, low 80s with low humidity is about as good as you’re going to get at Raymond Jame Stadium on a Sunday afternoon in September, and that made for a great set up to the Bucs’ Week 3 game against the New York Giants.
The Giants won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. That meant it would be up quarterback Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers offense to get this game started — and they did just that in a big way.
On a 10-play, 75-yard drive that included 53 passing yards to wide receiver Mike Evans, Winston led the offense down the field quickly for a 6-0 lead (after kicker Matt Gay missed the ensuing extra point).
The national story of the day was that Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones was getting his first start. Jones did a nice job of running the offense and adapting to pressure on his first drive, taking the Giants down the field 57 yards in 11 plays to get them in field goal range. That brought the score to 6-3.
Winston and company followed up their touchdown drive with yet another. A perfectly called screen pass to running back Ronald Jones got the Bucs in New York territory, and a long O.J. Howard catch followed by a quick strike to Evans got the ball over the end zone line once again. However, the extra point was blocked and the score was only able to go up to 12-3 in favor of Tampa Bay.
On Jones’ next drive for the Giants, he took them down the field 75 yards in 12 plays to match the Bucs most recent score in the end zone. Jones did a great job dealing with the Bucs pressure in his face, and was able to deliver some clutch passes to guys like Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. In the end, Jones took it himself and scored on a short run. The Bucs lead was just 12-10.
Tampa would score two field goals on their next two drives, bringing the score to 18-10. On their next possession, Winston hit Mike Evans for a third time in the end zone to bring the score to 25-10. Another field goal from the Buccaneers and the score went into the half 28-10.
The Bucs may have gone to the half in full control, but Jones and the Giants weren’t done yet. On their first play of the second half, Jones hit Engram for a 75-yard touchdown with a 2-point conversion to bring the score to 28-18. And on their next drive, Jones led the Giants, who were without Saquon Barkley, down the field 80 yards in eight plays for yet another score. This brought the game to a 3-point, 28-25 contest.
After that the game would slow down a bit, and by slow down we mean that Buccaneers defensive end Shaq Barrett would completely take over and dominate the Giants offense to the tune of four sacks. This put Barrett atop the NFL sack list with eight on the season through just three games.
When the Bucs took over, they were able to bleed some fourth quarter clock and get into field goal range. Gay was able to make his fourth field goal of the day to bring the score to 31-25 in favor of Tampa Bay.
The Giants went three-and-out on their next drive, giving possession back to Tampa Bay with a chance to really bring the clock down, now under five minutes left to play. The Bucs had a strong first down run, but were not able to cross the line to gain and were force to punt it back to New York.
The Giants started off their drive with passes to Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Evan Engram to get them to midfield. Then a blown coverage assignment left Shepard wide open once again for a 36-yard gain. This got them within striking distance. After a few stops on defense, Jones scooted into the end zone untouched the give the Giants their first lead of the game 32-31.
When the Bucs took over, a sack on the field play didn’t look good. But two back-to-back big passes to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans got them within Matt Gay field goal range.
But it was no good.
Bucs lose 32-31.