By: Michelle Sabin
Sports Talk Florida
Under the lights of Raymond James Stadium on Monday Night Football, the Buccaneers defeated the New York Giants 30-10.
Head Coach Bruce Arians said, “As Dorothy would say there’s no place like home. Totally different, obviously, when you have our crowd and everything. . . .Playing like that with that total team effort I thought was outstanding. Obviously, it wasn’t perfect. We left a lot out there and gave them one. I really liked the way we showed up and played.”
Getting right down to business, Tampa Bay drove down the field 73 yards in 8 plays for an opening scoring drive. Wide receiver Chris Godwin ran in the 14-yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs were on the board.
What a difference from last week with a healthy arsenal of starting receivers on the field. During the drive, Brady completed passes to Godwin, Leonard Fournette, OJ Howard, and Cameron Brate. The Bucs also crafted effective rushing plays for Godwin and Evans. In short, they executed the opening drive effectively and as scripted.
The Giants got the ball and, despite running almost 7 minutes off the clock, settled for a field goal by kicker Graham Gano. During the drive, two costly penalties on Tampa Bay worked in New York’s favor handing them first downs. On the first, safety Jordan Whitehead made a tackle for loss, but the defense was offside. On the other, pass interference on cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting gave the Giants another first down, and this time in the red zone. Tampa Bay’s defense managed to hold them to a field goal on 4th and 14.
The first quarter ended with the Buccaneers on possession. As Tampa Bay continued the drive into the start of the second quarter, they faced 3rd and 4 on the Giants 33-yard line. On a no huddle play, Brady broke out of the pocket and scrambled up the middle for the first down. He jumped up with the notorious Brady fist pump in the air, yelling “let’s go.” The rush was recorded as 10 yards, the same as Mike Evans earlier in the game. However, Brady made sure to acknowledge it was, to him, an 11-yard run.
Brady said, “Eleven-yard run. They don’t happen very often, so I remember how far they go. It was pretty good.” Evans playfully added, “He has more rush yards than me in his career, but my average might be better.”
At the end of the drive, Bucs kicker Ryan Succop made for a 25-yard field goal. The lead was short lived as the Giants intercepted Brady on the next possession.
On a pass intended for Evans, the ball hit his hands and popped up into the air. It was caught by cornerback Adoree’ Jackson at the Tampa Bay 15-yard line. Two plays later the Giants scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass to left tackle Andrew Thomas.
Tampa Bay answered with a 6-yard touchdown by running back Ronald Jones to end the half. Jones recorded 33 yards rushing on Monday night, alongside starting running back Fournette who finished the game with 35 yards rushing and 39 yards receiving. There was also the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski who Brady targeted 8 times with 6 receptions and 71 yards.
However, the biggest touchdown of the game came in the middle of the third quarter. Brady had just thrown an incomplete pass on 2nd and 5 at the Giants 5-yard line. On the next play, Brady lined up in shotgun formation, and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Evans in the end zone. With that play, Evans recorded his 72nd touchdown, surpassing Mike Alstott’s record of 71 and making Evans the all-time franchise leader.
Evans said, “I’m very proud of that accomplishment. Hopefully I can extend it really far. I’m very proud. ‘A-Train’ (Mike Alstott) was an unbelievable player. I’m just happy to be in the same sentence as him, let alone breaking his record.”
While the overall offensive performance slowed in the second half, Tampa Bay’s defense came to life. In the third quarter, defensive tackle Steve McLendon intercepted Jones on 2nd and 8. “I remember the last chance I had, I dropped it. And that’s been almost seven years, so I had to make sure I capitalized today,” McLendon said. Tampa Bay capitalized on McLendon’s turnover with a 40-yard field goal.
In the fourth quarter, linebacker Devin White tipped a pass right to Mike Edwards for a second interception. Despite a 21-yard pass to Evans putting the Bucs on the Giants 18-yard line, they were unable to get into the end zone. Succop hit the 40-yard field goal expanding the lead and making the final score 30-10.
After a solid performance at home, Tampa Bay will face another big test on the road against the Indianapolis Colts on November 28.
The videos used in this story were provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Youtube channel.