Manning throws for 2 TDs, Giants hold off Buccaneers
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Eli Manning and a resilient New York Giants defense answered one last charge by Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Manning threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Giants rebound from last weekend's debacle at New Orleans with a 32-18 victory over the mistake-prone Buccaneers on Sunday.
''At times we didn't play as well as we're capable of playing, and then we kind of boosted it up at the end to make sure that we were going to win,'' New York coach Tom Coughlin said.
''We always preach about finishing,'' he added, ''and tonight we did.''
Manning threw first-half TD passes of 8 yards to Reuben Randle and 4 yards to Shane Vereen. The star quarterback did some of his best work on third down, including a crucial 9-yard throw to Odell Beckham Jr. to extend a late drive that produced a field goal while exhausting most of the final five minutes of the clock.
The defense, bolstered by the return of Jason Pierre-Paul, did its part by keeping the Winston-led Tampa Bay offense out of the end zone until the rookie scrambled 10 yards for a TD that made it 20-18 with 9:25 remaining.
''We did what we had to do to get a win. We needed a drive at the very end and we were able to get it,'' Manning said. ''We erased almost the last five minutes, got a field goal to go up eight and give them just a little bit of time.''
Twenty-three seconds to be exact.
''Thought we were ready to get over the hump, but we're not quite there yet,'' Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith said.
''In the end, we dropped balls, untimely penalties in terrible situations, fumbles that didn't help,'' Smith added. ''When a game ends up like this one did, things like that really stand out.''
Josh Brown booted four field goals for the Giants (5-4), including fourth-quarter kicks of 53 and 44 yards that gave New York some breathing room after the Bucs (3-5) pulled within two points. The victory on the heels of a 52-49 loss to the Saints moved NFC East-leading New York back over .500.
After Winston scored, the rookie's 2-point conversion pass to the rear of the end zone was caught out of bounds. The Giants sealed the victory with Brown's fourth field goal at the end of a 4-minute, 34-second drive, and Trevin Wade had a fumble recovery for a touchdown on the game's final play.
Winston completed 19 of 36 passes for 247 yards. The rookie went a fourth straight game without a turnover, but running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims hurt Tampa Bay's chances of winning consecutive games for the first time in two years by losing fumbles.
''The thing you have to focus on his how hard we're playing. We're playing our tail off,'' Winston said. ''Eventually we're going to break through. Eventually it's going to happen.''
Manning, who threw for six TDs the previous week against the Saints, completed 26 of 40 passes and was intercepted twice. Beckham had nine receptions for 105 yards.
Meanwhile, the Giants defense got a lift from the season debut for Pierre-Paul, who played 46 of 63 defensive snaps (73 percent), according to the team.
A week after allowing 608 yards, including 505 yards and a record-tying seven touchdowns passing to Drew Brees, the NFL's last-ranked defense held the Bucs to three first-half field goals - one after Manning threw an interception on the first play of the game and another after Winston and Mike Evans teamed on a 68-yard catch and run to the New York 12.
Evans had eight receptions for 152 yards, but also hurt the Bucs with several dropped passes.
Pierre-Paul had two tackles and two quarterback hits in his first action since the July 4 fireworks accident that sidelined him for training camp and the first eight games.
The sixth-year pro lost his right index finger and suffered other damage to the hand in the accident. He returned to practice two weeks ago and was believed to be on track to return next week against the New England Patriots.
But he progressed enough during workouts that the Giants decided to activate him against the Bucs.
''I just know I'm happy that I'm back out here doing what I love to do. I got a second opportunity,'' Pierre-Paul said.
NOTES: The game was a homecoming of sorts for Pierre-Paul, who played in college at South Florida. The Bulls play home games in Raymond James Stadium, which is also home to the Bucs. ... New York DT Jonathan Hankins left in the second quarter with a torn pectoral muscle. ... Tampa Bay S Bradley McDougald (concussion) and G Ali Marpet (ankle) also were injured during the first half and did not return.
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