By Ed Greene
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Like all sports, football is a result driven event. It’s always about the end result, wins and losses, regardless of how great or ugly it looks. Today’s game in which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced off against the visiting New York Giants is a perfect example of this rule of thumb. The offense was absent throughout the majority of the contest as the G Men would win at Raymond James Stadium, 32-18. The game was a complete 180 from their play at Atlanta a week earlier.
You never know what Bucs team is going to show up when kickoff arrives, and the game was full of recurring themes and issues throughout the game. The Bucs couldn’t buy a touchdown for majority of the day, save for the lone touchdown that QB Jameis Winston ran in during the final quarter. All the offensive unit could muster was four Connor Barth field goals. Eli Manning had an OK game, going 26 for 40, 213 yards, 2 touchdowns and two picks. While WR Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t get in the end zone, he was productive with a 105-yard day.
In the last couple of contests, the Bucs would have a good lead going into the half, only to let it slip away in the second. This time around, they managed to only sustain two FG leads early in the first quarter. The Giants soon got in the end zone with a Manning pass to Rueben Randle. RB Shane Vereen would follow up with a TD of his own early in the second quarter. The Giants never relinquished the lead thereafter.
Jameis Winston was 19 for 36 with no TD’s, but he did a fairly decent job of managing the drives. One of the big problems with the offense was the play of WR Mike Evans. Despite having another 100+ yard performance on eight catches, his drops overshadows all this. There was one drop that potentially could’ve turned into a Tampa Bay score. RB Doug Martin’s streak of 100 yard games was broken, only rushing for 31 yards, while backfield mate Charles Sims led the team with 78 yards.
The defense was a bright spot for the game, forcing two interceptions by Sterling Moore and Alterraun Verner that ended up turning into more FG points for the Buccaneers. But the line was unable to get to Manning or apply any pressure. The Bucs had opportunities to capitalize and get the ball back to the offense, but penalties reared its ugly head, none worse than a 15-yard roughing penalty on DT Akeem Spence. This young core needs to focus and work on their discipline yet again as the penalties are constantly their undoing. Dallas comes to Tampa next week, and while they’re struggling without star QB Tony Romo, that O-line remain one of the league’s best.
Coach Lovie Smith still has a uphill climb on both sides of the ball.
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