Eli Manning epitomized his performance by remaining patient, despite pressure coming right at him, pump-faking and finding WR Amani Toomer for an 11-yard connection on a third-and-seven play from the Giants’ 11 to end the third quarter. The Giants went ahead 24-7 another 12 plays later on Manning’s four-yard throw to Toomer. Manning was almost perfect in completing nine-of-10 passes for 99 yards, five first downs and a touchdown on the Giants’ two touchdown drives in the second quarter. Bottom Line: Manning was nearly flawless.
RB Brandon Jacobs overcame a rough start (nine carries for 18 yards in the first half) to run for a first down and catch an 11-yard pass on a third-and-nine play from Tampa’s 18 early in the third quarter. The drive resulted in K Lawrence Tynes’ 25-yard FG, which put the Giants ahead, 17-7. FB Madison Hedgecock manhandled MLB Barrett Ruud and Jacobs followed him through a huge hole for an 8-yard touchdown that helped give the Giants a 14-7 lead with 4:11 to play in the second quarter. Ahmad Bradshaw helped run out the clock in the fourth quarter (13 carries, 54 yards). Bottom Line: This game won’t make their highlight reel.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
WR Steve Smith shook two tackle attempts to transform about a 10-yard catch into a 21-yard reception on a third-and-two play from the Bucs’ 38 in the second quarter. The Giants went ahead 14-7 on Jacobs’ 8-yard touchdown run two plays later with 4:11 to go before halftime. Toomer caught first-down passes for 17, 10 and 13 yards, the last of which came on a third-and-nine play from Tampa Bay’s 18, on a second-quarter drive that resulted in Jacobs’ game-tying, 5-yard touchdown catch (7-7). Bottom Line: They all contributed.
LT David Diehl blocked RDE Greg White outside and helped Hedgecock create the huge hole Jacobs used for his 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. RT Kareem McKenzie couldn’t contain LDE Gaines Adams, who ran right around him for an eight-yard sack of Manning on a third-and-nine play from the Giants’ 26 at the end of the first quarter. Bottom Line: Manning was sacked only once and hurried just twice.
LDE Michael Strahan overpowered RT Jeremy Trueblood and dropped QB Jeff Garcia for a 5-yard loss that forced the Bucs into a third-and-15 situation in the second quarter. They punted two plays later and the Giants went ahead for good on their ensuing drive (14-7). NT Barry Cofield was a little late in delivering a two-fisted shove to a vulnerable Garcia’s chest, and the 15-yard personal foul moved the Bucs to the Giants’ 40 midway through the third quarter. Bottom Line: They took turns getting in Garcia’s face all afternoon.
Guards Anthony Davis and Davin Joseph took out MLB Antonio Pierce to clear an opening for RB Earnest Graham’s 1-yard touchdown that helped give the Bucs a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. Bottom Line: They played a pretty unremarkable game.
With the Bucs threatening to cut into the Giants’ 17-7 lead in the third quarter, RCB Corey Webster’s blanket coverage of speedy WR Joey Galloway down the sideline enabled him to easily intercept an underthrown Garcia pass in the end zone. LCB Aaron Ross reacted late to TE Alex Smith’s inside route and allowed Smith to catch a 15-yard pass on a third-and-one play from the Bucs’ 42 late in the third quarter. Bottom Line: Webster shut down Galloway (one catch, nine yards).
While dragging down KR Michael Spurlock by the shoulder pad with his right arm, LB Tank Daniels snuck his left hand in to strip the ball away from Spurlock on the kickoff to open the second half. Webster spared K Lawrence Tynes some embarrassment by recovering Tynes’ amusing attempt at scooping up Spurlock’s fumble at Tampa Bay’s 30. P Jeff Feagles boomed a 52-yard punt that forced the Bucs, who had kept the Giants inside their own 20, to start a drive at their own 33 late in the third quarter. Bottom Line: They struggled returning kickoffs and punts.
Tom Coughlin wisely got Ahmad Bradshaw some touches once it became clear that Brandon Jacobs was going to struggle against the Bucs’ rugged run defense. Following three shaky series in the first quarter, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was rewarded for showing confidence in Manning, as the quarterback took control of the game in the second quarter. Bottom Line: They’re 8-1 on the road, heading to Dallas.