No one expected the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to travel to Met Life Stadium on Sunday and participate in an offensive shootout with the New York Giants, but that is exactly what happened as the two teams participated in the highest scoring game around the league this weekend. Despite showing signs of improvement, the Buccaneers prove to be a young team which needs to build on some fundamentals.
In Tampa’s first game of the season, they limited the Carolina Panthers to just ten yards on the ground. This week, the Giants were held to 94 yards and the Buccaneers ran RB Ahmad Bradshaw from the game with a neck injury. While the run defense is greatly improved, the secondary and pass coverage proves to be a work in progress.
The Buccaneers were able to pressure QB Eli Manning in the first half, forcing him to throw three interceptions and the offense managed to build a nine point lead at the end of the third quarter. Then the wheels fell off. Manning roared back in the fourth quarter, leading the Giants to a 25-point comeback.
The Giants clearly wanted to work on Buccaneers CB Aqib Talib with many plays designed to go right after him. Hakeem Nicks finished the afternoon with 10 receptions for 199 yards and a score while Victor Cruz tallied 179 yards and a touchdown. 80 of those yards coming on a single touchdown where he simply ran right past veteran DB Ronde Barber.
Manning finished the afternoon with 510 yards through the air as the Giants tallied 604 total offensive yards, the second highest number of yards in their franchise career as the Buccaneers continued to blitz Manning and he simply shredded their defense. 243 yards of this afternoon’s total came in just the fourth quarter.
Yes, it was a monumental collapse by the Buccaneers in the fourth quarter, but this is still a vastly improved team over the one which took the field in 2011. No one really expected the Buccaneers would be holding a nine point lead over the defending Super Bowl Champions after three quarters. Last season’s version of the Buccaneers likely could not have rallied back and tied the score at 34 with just under two minutes to go.
You have to acknowledge that Manning is a two time Super Bowl Champion and he knows a thing or two about playing quarterback. The Buccaneers meanwhile, were playing under Greg Schiano’s leadership, for just the second time in his young career.
There are some positives to take away from this loss but there are some glaring issues on defense as well. This team will improve. It doesn’t get any easier this week however as the Buccaneers travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys in the second of a trio of games featuring NFC East opponents. Tampa Bay had won only once in New York whether playing against either the Giants or Jets. Tampa has only won once in Dallas in their franchise history as well. Greg Schiano has his work cut out for him.