It was all smoke and mirrors.
No, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t do anything super special or innovative to out scheme the New York Giants despite Brady’s resume of being a football mastermind.
There may have been a few well-schemed plays here or there, but the Bucs offense came out and took what they could get from a lousy Giants defense that failed to carry over their dominance from the previous game two weeks ago. Scoring on three of their first four possessions, the Bucs recovered from their two-game skid and handled the lowly Giants 30-10 on Monday Night Football.
As for those Giants, they spent the entire fifteen days of their bye getting everyone excited for the return of multiple key offensive weapons as the second half of the season drew near. In the end, the revived offense looked worse than they were two weeks ago when they were less healthy, and the Giants fell to 3-7, with their slim playoff chances fading into the night.
Here are the numbers and stats that contributed to the Giants' loss.
Bucs Offense Racks up 258 in the First Quarter
The defending Super Bowl champions had everyone concerned for their potential run at a repeat over the last two weeks with their back-to-back losses, particularly the most recent defeat to Washington, where Tom Brady looked exposed by a Football Team defense that forced him to throw two interceptions.
Yet, on Monday night, the offense-led by seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady—was back and ready to prove that their last performance was an honest fluke and that they are still one of the dominant offenses in the NFL.
From their opening possession, everything the Bucs’ offense wanted came with complete ease.
Against a Giants defense that was set on playing their secondary deep, sometimes deploying the one high safety, in fear of getting burnt on a deep play by Brady, the Bucs racked up a total of 258 yards on their first-quarter drives alone. The Bucs' total offense at the end of the game was clocked at 402 yards.
On three separate drives of 73, 79, and 71 yards, respectively, Brady calmly directed Bucs' offense down the field, settling for wide-open 5-7 yards passes in the middle of the field, en route to two touchdowns and a field goal by Ryan Succop.
Brady was having a field day with the Giants defense, who made substantial adjustments throughout the game to cool off his dishing. The 45-year-old even took off from the pocket on 3rd and short, using his still nimble legs to hurdle a Giants tackler, slid with style to convert for a big first down to extend one of Tampa Bay’s drives.
It was undoubtedly a rebound game that Brady and the entire Bucs offense needed. Perhaps it was the opponent they faced and their struggles all season, but they’ll take the impressive stat sheet nonetheless.
Giants Healthy Offense: A Mere 215 Yards
For all the hype and anticipation surrounding the prospect of the Giants entering Week 11 with an almost entirely healthy offense for the first time since the start of the season, there wasn’t much to be amazed by as the returning faces didn’t come close to living up to the noise.
With Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay back on the field together for the first time since Week 4, the Giants offense produced a mere 215 yards of total offense, their lowest total this season. The next lowest total was 247 weeks before the team’s Week 9 win over the Raiders.
Neither Barkley nor Golladay was a factor in the offense’s performance. After returning from a six-week absence due to an ankle injury, Barkley was held to just six carries for 25 yards with an average of 4.2 yards per rush. Barkley did, however, add six receptions for 31 yards, including a long reception for 11 yards, to lightly help his cause.
Golladay, who has just 19 catches for 310 yards this season, was targeted twice the entire game, catching only one pass for 12 yards. In the five games he played, Golladay has just one game of 100+ receiving yards and has yet to score a touchdown.
It wasn’t a good outing for their gunslinger, Daniel Jones, either.
The Giants quarterback went 23-38 for 167 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in his second-most dismal performance of the season. Jones’s first interception occurred midway through the third quarter, as he threw a no-look pass in the area of Barkley that went into the hands of Bucs defensive lineman Steve McLendon to halt the Giants drive. It was Jones’s first game with multiple interceptions since Week 6 when he had three against the Los Angeles Rams.
These are very troubling statistics, and certainly not how this Giants offense will find any form of success through the final seven games.
The All-Important 4th-and-1
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Despite settling for a field goal on their first possession and punting twice in the first half, the Giants found themselves down only one score as they received the ball to start the second half.
Behind a six-play, 50-yard drive, the Giants moved the ball down to the Bucs’ 25-yard line, where they were stopped short on third down and left with 4th and one and a big decision to make.
Knowing that points are a precious commodity against a high-scoring capable Bucs offense, Joe Judge decided to roll the dice and attempt to extend the drive towards the red zone and seven points.
The gamble itself wasn’t so bad, but the play calling was what made it a losing bet. The Giants had Jones take the snap and attempt to find one of his receivers coming across the field. Still, before he could find one, he was pressured by the Bucs defenders and threw an incomplete pass intended for Collin Johnson, turning the ball over to Tampa Bay on downs.
Some will argue that one play was decisive in this game, and perhaps they’re not wrong. The reality is after the Giants' opening possession of the second half, it was all Tampa Bay as they put up two more touchdowns and a field goal to put the game on ice.
Seven Straight Games with an Interception
If the Giants defense wants something to hang their hats on from a game in which they were picked apart by Brady and the Bucs’ seemingly impeccable offense, they found a way to keep a streak going Monday night.
Courtesy of a tipped ball interception by corner Adoree Jackson, the Giants defense secured their seventh straight game with an interception, the longest active streak in the NFL.
The interception came with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, with Tampa Bay starting their third offensive drive of the first half at their 15-yard line. On 1st and 10, Brady, who had two interceptions the previous game in a loss to Washington, threw a quick screen pass to receiver Mike Evans. The pass ricocheted off Evans’ fingertips into the air and fell into Jacksons’ to give the Giants the ball at the Tampa Bay 5-yard line.
When failing to do so would have been embarrassing, the Giants cashed in two plays later as Jones surprisingly found Andrew Thomas in the endzone for six points to tie the game at 10-10.
Patrick Graham’s defense was able to put at least one blemish on Brady’s Week 11 stat sheet, and thank goodness. If nothing else, it saved the Giants from leaving Tampa Bay touchdown-less.
Number 78 Gets His Number One
Left tackle Andrew Thomas has been one of the numerous Giants dealing with injury struggles this season. The Giants certainly missed his improved protection on the left side before the foot injury, which placed him on the IR list for a few weeks.
On Monday, Thomas returned from the IR in time to start the game. Not only did he give Jones a better-yet extremely slim chance at protection in the pocket, but he also found one of Jones’s risky throws in the end zone for the Giants' lone red-zone score.
On 2nd-and-2 from the Bucs’ 2, two plays after the Adoree Jackson interception, Thomas entered the game as an eligible receiver with the Giants sniffing the end zone down 10-3. Upon the snap, Thomas made a quick block on the edge and rolled out to the left side of the end zone.
Jones, who was pressured on 48% of the Giants' snaps, feeling the brunt of the Bucs’ defensive rush once again, looked for a receiver to release the ball to. Falling back on his right leg from the pressure, Jones chucked a pass for the left side of the end zone that found the big, reliable gloves of Thomas, who brought it down comfortably for the touchdown to even the score at 10-10.
It was the first touchdown of the left tackle’s young NFL career and the second catch he’s made since becoming a member of the Giants. Last season, in a Week 5 loss to the Cowboys, Jones threw a 4-yard pass to Thomas in the end zone on a 2-point conversion attempt, the securing catch following a touchdown by Devonta Freeman that gave the Giants a momentary lead in the game.
At most, Thomas’s score gave the Georgia product a moment in the Tampa limelight and something for the fans to lightheartedly cheer about in a performance that saw no more points get scored.
However, the more alarming reality is that an offensive lineman now has more touchdown receptions than two of their star skill players in Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. For all the talent on paper that the Giants have on offense, they’ve had nothing to show for it other than the aforementioned names combining for just 714 receiving yards and just above $3 million in cap space crumbs to try to resolve the disaster in the offseason.
Coming off a two-week bye period, it took the unexpected name for the Giants to put points on the board against a Bucs defense that has been generous in allowing 256 passing yards per game. The Giants' total offense didn’t even cross that echelon on Monday.
Thomas can’t be the scorer on every typical red zone play, so something has to give with the Giants immense offensive shortcomings, and it’s sounded ever more certain that something will.
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