Welcome to my weekly post-game column, where I’ll take a look at the moment(s) the game turned either in favor or against the Buccaneers. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive look at all the reasons the Bucs won or lost, but instead the key moment or two where things went north or south for the team.

The Game-Changer

If there’s one thing I pride myself on as a beat reporter, it’s being unbiased and fair in all of the analysis that I do, even toward players or teams I may have a proclivity toward. And as much as I’d love to give the Bucs credit for the turning point in Monday night’s ball game, the biggest reason why Tampa Bay is 6-2 and not 5-3 doesn’t have anything to do with a player wearing red and pewter.

Instead it was Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones, he of the 18-point comeback victory in his NFL starting debut a year ago against the Bucs, who fell flat on his face despite the Bucs worst defensive showing of the season. Jones, who finished the game 25-41 for 256 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, made the first of several back-breaking errors early in the second half, when he tossed his first pick of the game.

After the Giants kick return team set the offense up with great field position at the 44-yard line, Jones’ first pass of the second half quickly squashed any advantage New York may have had. Facing a 2nd-and-8 from his own 46-yard line, Jones looked like he wanted a one-on-one to the boundary between Darius Slayton and Jamel Dean, but came off the throw before the receiver worked open down the field.

Instead Jones lobbed an inexplicably poor throw right to Carlton Davis, who was sitting deep in his zone when he saw the free gift floating his way. Credit Shaq Barrett for discarding the Giants blocking tight end and pressuring Jones into a poor decision, but if Jones makes the right read it’s a touchdown on the other side of the field.

Instead Jones committed his first of two crucial turnovers, giving the Bucs life near midfield for a field goal attempt that cut the Giants’ lead to 14-9. But it may have been his second interception of the game, with the Giants leading 17-15 almost three minutes into the fourth quarter, that truly doomed New York.

The Giants actually block this play up very well, but Jones drops too deep in the pocket and rolls right into Barrett, who gets off his block to grab the second-year quarterback’s jersey and force an ill-advised late throw. Sean Murphy-Bunting, who had touched the ball one time all year, made an impressive half-diving interception, and the Bucs thwarted an almost certain Giants scoring drive.

There is certainly some good stuff by the Bucs defense on these two plays, but both of the team’s interceptions were far more a product of Daniel Jones falling apart than anything brilliant the defense did. Arians admitted as much after the game.

“The young quarterback (Jones) – he’s still trying to do too much,” Arians said after the game. “When you’re in the grasp with those guys (Bucs pass rushers), 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.”

The Bucs weren’t good on Monday night, especially on defense, but luckily for them Daniel Jones was worse. The road is about to get much tougher over the next four weeks, as the Saints, Panthers, Rams and Chiefs form a formidable next month of games.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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eaustinyoung
eaustinyoung (@eaustinyoung)
1 year ago

SMB made one token INT to keep himself relevant meanwhile he was getting torched all game.

DT25
DT25 (@dt25)
Reply to  eaustinyoung
1 year ago

lol PFF had him graded as the best player in coverage in the secondary last night. So…I don’t really think he was torched quite as much as believed. He had the bad play to allow the TD late which will likely warp the overall perspective of the game he played…but otherwise he was mostly pretty good. Dean on the other hand was very lucky Daniel Jones is just a bad QB or there’s a chance he would’ve given up TDs of over 40 yards on 3 or 4 different occasions.

Last edited 1 year ago by DT25
surferdudes
surferdudes (@surferdudes)
1 year ago

That’s the kind of Q.B. play Buc fans have had to endure for the last 5 years.

Buc stops here
Buc stops here (@buc-stops-here)
1 year ago

The Giants exposed some weaknesses fans should be aware of, and only Daniel Jones being off on nearly all his long passes preserved the win. 1) Mobile QBs give the Bucs defense fits. With the threat of Jones running, the defense had to use resources to contain him. As a result, the running game for the Giants opened up and they could run the ball. Daniel only had one run for significant yardage, but the running attack gained over 100 yards for the first time this season. The Bucs blitzed about 10% less this game (71% compared to a season… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast (@drdneast)
Reply to  Buc stops here
1 year ago

Every running mobile QB gives every team defense in the NFL fits. The Bucs are no different. For a lot of fans they see a 1-6 Giants team and they think they stink but what they don’t know is their last three losses have been by one point and I don’t think they have lost a game by more than one score.
This game was never going to be the walk in the park a lot of you knuckleheads thought it was going to be.

Buc stops here
Buc stops here (@buc-stops-here)
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

Not true. If that was the case the Baltimore Ravens would be undefeated with one of the most mobile quarterbacks as well as a fairly accurate passer. Instead they have lost to the Steeler and were literally blown out by the Chiefs by 14 points (only scoring 20). They can be stopped but it is quite difficult to do. The Bucs did do a decent job but not a great job as Daniel Jones only had one substantial run and they did somehow sack him twice. But it did help the Giants open up their run game as they could… Read more »

scubog
scubog (@scubog)
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

Totally agree with you Dr. D. Any NFL team is capable of beating any other NFL team. In my opinion the turning point was when RoJo fumbled the ball, giving the Giants an easy score and much needed hope.

fredster
fredster (@fredster)
1 year ago

If not for Jones sucking so bad we would lost this game by 14 or more. He did remind me of Winston refusing to give up on plays and throwing it up for grabs several times. This secondary still scares me too. Other than Davis and Winfield the rest all scare me at times. Dean is still so inconsistent regardless of splash plays. Bunting has regressed too. If pass rush doesn’t get there you just hold your breath. Jones had so many guys wide open too and missed them.

PatrioticChief
PatrioticChief (@patrioticchief)
1 year ago

The Bucs should have traded for King. SMB is a liability. That is not hindsight. Been beating this drum for a while now. You don’t need 3 elite corners to win but you can’t have one be a liability and SMB is. Starting to get a little nervous about this secondary.

fl0nase
fl0nase (@fl0nase)
1 year ago

I am curious to know @JonLedyard, whether Mickens was primarily playing the roll of the slot WR with Godwin out. I know they move people around so I was wondering what your take was on how they rearranged the WR corps. I don’t understand why Johnson wasn’t targeted instead of Mickens, unless Mickens was tapped to be a poor mans Edelman as part of the gameplan.

Last edited 1 year ago by fl0nase
eaustinyoung
eaustinyoung (@eaustinyoung)
Reply to  fl0nase
1 year ago

My theory is they did it to see how to adjust the depth chart when AB comes on. Because either Watson, Johnson, or Mickens will be moved to inactive.

fl0nase
fl0nase (@fl0nase)
Reply to  eaustinyoung
1 year ago

That’s a decent theory. Mickens is return man, so in theory he has a bit of a leg up on the other two in terms of staying dressed on game day.

eaustinyoung
eaustinyoung (@eaustinyoung)
Reply to  fl0nase
1 year ago

They could use a fast DB like Winfield or Dean or they could use AB in returns. Lots of elite receivers return punts (Tyreek and OBJ come to mind)

Buc stops here
Buc stops here (@buc-stops-here)
Reply to  eaustinyoung
1 year ago

Watson and Mickens will most likely stay on, with Johnson moving to the practice squad. Watson although short has become the healthy go-to guy for Brady in a lot of games this year, an Mickens is the return guy who has been reliable. That leaves Johnson as the short stick most likely.

DT25
DT25 (@dt25)
Reply to  fl0nase
1 year ago

Yeah Arians said Mickens got Godwin’s role. Think Johnson would’ve made more sense for it, but Mickens filled in alright. Still…don’t think a winning formula will typically be “throw to Mickens”…usually if the defense is forcing us to do that so often, they’re going to be very happy with that.

PissedOffBuc1988
PissedOffBuc1988 (@buclover1988)
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

The last thing tampa needs to do is move johnson to the practice squad.

Spitfire
Spitfire (@spitfire)
1 year ago

It’s called being the better team. When bad teams know they have to make a play or else they will lose, they both have success because they are pushing harder (like the “advantage” of having to go for it on 4th down, it’s like an entire game of that) and that also forces them into making mistakes. All of their success and lack thereof was due to the fact that they had to do everything they could to overcome their terribleness to have a chance of winning that game. They were dinking and dunkin using College style trick handoffs to… Read more »

Spitfire
Spitfire (@spitfire)
Reply to  Spitfire
1 year ago

The Giants last night were us the last few years, they are good enough to win games but aren’t quite able to make it happen and have to push push push to try and overcome which nets them both good and bad numbers. It still comes
Down to we were the better team.

eaustinyoung
eaustinyoung (@eaustinyoung)
Reply to  Spitfire
1 year ago

Last night was the Giants ceiling.

Horse
Horse (@horse)
1 year ago

Game changer; we have a Kicker!
Game changer to beat the Saints; DB’s have to play WR’s tight and don’t be concerned about the deep pass because Brees doesn’t have that kind of arm anymore.
Game changer; we have to not play conservative against the Saints and NEVER take the foot off the pedal!
Notice I’m focused on the Saints as this is a must win.

Ron Potter
Ron Potter (@finalsorbust)
1 year ago

Good pressure on a young QB. Jones is no Brady. Not sure why media (includes broadcasters and not just PR and other outlets) continues to emphasize the QB. It dooms first round QB picks. It takes a GOAT to make this Giants play work. 2nd and 8… with an 8 point lead… there’s no need to call a play where there’s only one short pass option and the team had success against us in the run and we’re missing Vita Vea. QBs are also taught to throw on the side of the field where the blitz came from. Jones shouldn’t… Read more »

PissedOffBuc1988
PissedOffBuc1988 (@buclover1988)
1 year ago

That’s why we went out and got a qb that does not beat himself. Brady may have thrown pick 6s but I that because of 2 reasons dating back to the new England playoff game. 1) in New England he had a sub par ol and one receive. 2) in tampa it was his first game and was the first real action with tampa because of the pandemic. Brady has historically been a qb that wins the close ones regardless. This was still a win no matter how you look at it. Jones played how s heart out but you… Read more »