Giants record: 5-2
This time last year: 5-2
Time of game: 3:00
Stat worth noting: The Giants defense allowed only 174 total yards, a paltry average of just 2.8 yards per play.
Stat worth noting II: A week after committing only three penalties in Dallas, New York was flagged only four times against the Bucs.
Turning point: In a closely contested match, the Giants were able to take advantage of a huge Tampa miscue to extend what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. With New York ahead 7-3 early in the second quarter, Cadillac Williams mishandled Bruce Gradkowski’s pitch attempt and Fred Robbins recovered the loose ball at the Bucs 28-yard line. Three plays later Brandon Jacobs was in the end zone with a 14-3 lead.
Play to remember: New York’s first TD was not only a thing of beauty but red-zone perfection as well. Eli Manning lofted a perfect fade pass into the end zone that Plaxico Burress went up and grabbed with his left hand. The 5-10 Ronde Barber was helpless to defend the 6-5 Burress.
Play to forget: David Tyree was flagged five yards for a neutral zone infraction that gave Tampa Bay a first down on a fourth-and-five punting situation. The Bucs then drove to their only points of the game.
2 – Number of rushing first downs New York’s defense allowed against the Bucs.
4 – Consecutive games the Giants have won since being smoked in Seattle.
21 – Minutes until the Bucs recorded their initial first down of the contest.
“That was not an easy football game. (It was) an outstanding game that they played, and we’re very fortunate and very happy to have won.” – Giants coach Tom Coughlin
“I would like to congratulate the Giants. They are a very good football team.” – Bucs coach Jon Gruden
What went right
The Giants defense basically manhandled the Bucs all afternoon long. Tampa couldn’t run nor pass with any sort of consistency and despite his heroics in his first couple starts, rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski looked like he belonged back on campus at the University of Toledo.
New York’s defense continually escorted the Bucs offense off the field almost as fast as they trotted on. Tampa finished converting only two of 16 third downs.
While Tiki Barber was never fully able to get untracked – at least to his standards – the Giants did own a large advantage in time of possession and were able to control the game, especially down the stretch when they milked about seven-and-a-half minutes off the clock in the final period while extending their lead to 17-3. Big Blue held the ball for 35:38 compared to 24:22 for Tampa.
New York continued its excellent play in the red zone, scoring two TDs and a FG in three trips inside Tampa Bay’s 20-yard line. The Bucs never reached New York’s red zone.
Despite the tricky winds, New York went the entire game without turning the ball over.
What went wrong
Mainly as a result of the high winds, Eli Manning and Big Blue could never get untracked in their passing game. Manning only threw for 154 yards and his longest completion was for only 25 yards. However, most importantly, Manning didn’t throw an INT.
New York lost linebacker Brandon Short to a quad injury. Short, who’s played very well since filling in for Carlos Emmons on the weak side, was injured early in the game and never returned. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday and was hopeful of playing against Houston.
Big Blue couldn’t move the sticks all that well, converting only three-of-14 third-down opportunities. They also failed on their only fourth-down try.
Despite allowing only 139 rushing yards, Tampa Bay averaged a gaudy seven yards per carry.
While he’ll surely be happy with the win, Tiki Barber only gained 68 yards on the afternoon. Barber had 26 carries for a 2.6-yard average. Barber was a little more effective in the passing game, gaining 20 yards on three catches.