Rapid Reaction: Giants 41, Buccaneers 34
September, 16, 2012
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- It started off ugly, but the New York Giants got their first win of the season in dramatic fashion, 41-34 over Tampa Bay, with another Eli Manning fourth-quarter comeback.
What it means: Down 27-13 early in the third quarter, the Giants came storming back. Manning threw two touchdown passes with less than seven minutes left to give the Giants a 34-27 lead. Josh Freeman came back and tied the game with 1:58 remaining, but Manning marched the Giants down the field for the win. Manning passed for a career-high 510 yards.
Cruz tribute: Victor Cruz had a monster game as he bounced back from his three drops against Dallas. He had 11 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Nine of his catches came in the first half alone. He tied the score with an 80-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the fourth quarter, then did his first touchdown salsa of the season -- an emotional one in honor of his grandmother, Lucy Molina, who died Monday.
Hakeem Nicks also looked a lot like his old self, dominating Tampa Bay and Aqib Talib at times. Nicks limped a few times after being tackled awkwardly on his surgically repaired foot, but he finished with 10 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown.
Miserable half: Manning had to overcome a tough first half against Tampa, throwing three picks, including one that was returned by Eric Wright for a 60-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Manning's interceptions all led to Tampa Bay touchdowns in the first half. His first interception went to linebacker Mason Foster, giving the Bucs the ball at the Giants' 28.
The second came when Brandon McDonald intercepted Manning as Cruz appeared to be held. McDonald returned the interception 40 yards to the Giants' 26, but a horse-collar penalty on the tackle by Andre Brown gave Tampa the ball at the Giants' 13.
Wright's interception came as Manning was looking to hit Cruz on a quick slant. He did not see Wright in front of him, who snatched the pass and then avoided three Giants before running down the right sideline for the touchdown to give Tampa a 24-13 lead.
Injuries galore: Already without CB Prince Amukamara (ankle) and LB Keith Rivers (hamstring), several key Giants went down with injuries in the first half.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw was knocked out of the game with a neck issue. RT David Diehl left the game in the first half with a knee injury. And WR Domenik Hixon suffered a concussion in the first half and was done for the game.
Diehl's injury forced the Giants to do some shuffling. They moved Sean Locklear from left tackle to right tackle and put Will Beatty back at his left tackle spot.
Beatty had a rough first half. He dropped a high-but-catchable touchdown pass as the extra tight end on one play. Diehl got hurt on the next play. Beatty had one of his two first-half false starts on a third-and-1 at the Tampa Bay 1 and the Giants had to eventually settle for a field goal.
Hot corner: Corey Webster struggled a bit in the first half for the second straight game as Vincent Jackson beat him a couple of times.
Michael Coe gave up a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jackson in the first half. Webster did redeem himself with an interception near the end of the third to help set up a Giants field goal that trimmed the deficit to 27-19.
Justin Tryon surrendered a 41-yard touchdown to Mike Williams that evened the game at 34-34 with 1:58 remaining.
Jayron Hosley started in place of Amukamara and moved to cover slot receivers on three-wide sets with Coe on the outside.
What can Brown do for you: Brown gave the running game a much-needed spark as he ran hard and had 60 yards, including a 23-yard run. He scored the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds remaining. Earlier, he converted a two-point conversion to tie the game at 27-27 with 6:48 remaining.
David Wilson was used as the secondary back with Brown becoming the feature back with Bradshaw out.
We'll have to see how the Giants use their backs in the next game if Bradshaw is unable to play.
What's next: There’s not much time to recover as the Giants immediately prepare for their Thursday night game at Carolina against Cam Newton.