How they did it wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the night the Bucs were victorious over the Giants by a score of 25-23 on Monday Night Football. Tampa Bay turned it on in the second half with two touchdown passes from Tom Brady, and just when it appeared the game would slip away, Antoine Winfield Jr. got the job done by breaking up a game-tying two-point conversion attempt. As they say, a win is a win.
With that said, these were the most disappointing players from the Bucs win on Monday night.
RB Ronald Jones
Jones had a very costly fumble on the Bucs’ second drive of the game that gave the Giants great field position at Tampa Bay’s 10-yard line, which they took advantage of by scoring a touchdown to go up 7-3. It was an odd sequence as the pass from Brady was tipped at the line of scrimmage and wasn’t the easiest to corral, but once you have it in your hands, you can’t let it go. After the turnover he didn’t see a lot of touches as the game went on. Leonard Fournette ended up out-carrying him 15-7 as Jones finished with 23 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards on four receptions and a fumble.
C Ryan Jensen
It’s starting to become a noticeable trend that Jensen has had some poor snaps to Brady in important situations. Jensen had a low snap to Brady in Week 6 against the Packers, and it happened again twice on Monday night. This time around on the opening drive, a low snap from Jensen got Brady out of rhythm, which caused him to miss his timing on a pass to an open Mike Evans. Had it been completed, the Bucs would have been down to the 15-yard line and in a better position to score, but the drive stalled and they settled for a field goal. An opening drive touchdown may have had a ripple effect that doesn’t see the Giants making it as close as they did. At the NFL level, those snaps by Jensen can’t happen.
Bucs’ Offensive Play Calling
Byron Leftwich has come under scrutiny over his first two seasons as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator, and Monday’s game didn’t do him any favors. The Bucs constantly ran the ball up the middle on first down with very little success that put them in second-and-long situations all night. I understand you can’t completely abandon the run, but the play-calling has become quite predictable and formulaic. The Giants were having success stopping the run and yet no adjustments were made. Tampa Bay just kept banging their heads against the wall with two-yard run (at best!) after two-yard run. Sometimes you have to mix it up and pass on first down to set up the run.
CB Jamel Dean
The Bucs were lucky that Daniel Jones made some poor throws, because Jamel Dean was torched on several plays. Dean was bailed out on an overthrow by Jones in the second half that would have been an easy touchdown for Sterling Shepard, who blew right by Dean down the field. Dean was beaten badly as well on Carlton Davis’ interception, and luckily the pressure got to Jones, forcing a bad decision. Dean tied for the team lead with seven tackles, but most of them were made from tackling the receiver that just beat him in coverage.
CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
Murphy-Bunting was able to get on the board with his first interception of the season. Though it was the play that he didn’t make that gets him on the list. Murphy-Bunting gave the Giants a chance to tie the game up after allowing Golden Tate to score with 28 seconds remaining. He had the coverage on Tate, but he mistimed his attempt to make play on the ball, jumping too early and giving Tate enough room to come down with it in bounds. Murphy-Bunting ended the game with six tackles and an interception.
Bucs’ Run Defense
Tampa Bay sure missed Vita Vea in this one. For the first time this season, the Bucs allowed over 100 yards rushing to an opponent, an even more surprising stat given that the Giants were down to their third and fourth-string backs, along with an offensive line that had struggled all season. The Bucs were overwhelmed at the point of attack as the Giants were able to run it north and south. It was an uncharacteristic performance from a group that entered the game leading the league in stopping the run by giving up just 66 yards per game, but I would chalk this up to more of an aberration than something to worry about in the coming weeks.