VICTORY MONDAY NIGHT!
Well, it was far from perfect, but it was much better than their last two games. After going almost a month without a win, the Buccaneers thrilled the hometown crowd with an easy 30-10 victory in Raymond James Stadium for Monday Night Football. The offense scored on seven of their ten possessions, while the defense held the Giants to 215 total yards of offense and forced four turnovers. It still wasn’t their best football, but it was a good step towards righting the ship. As I said, it wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it was a solid game in all three phases. So let’s take a look at the “GOOD“, the “BAD“, and the “UGLY” from the Bucs primetime game versus the Giants.
The last two games haven’t been up to “Tom Brady standards“, but he took a step back in the right direction on Monday night going 30 of 46 for 307 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception that wasn’t his fault. He completed passes to 10 different receivers, had four receivers with at least 6 catches, AND had 3 receivers with at least 65 yards. This game put Brady over the 3,000-yard mark for the 19th season, surpassing Brett Favre for the most of all time. After Week 11, the Bucs are now #1 in scoring offense, 2nd in total offense, 1st in passing offense, 26th in rushing, 3rd in third downs, 9th in Red Zone, and 1st in sacks allowed.
The Tampa Bay defense that we’ve come to expect from this team FINALLY showed up in this game. They held the Giants offense WITH SAQUON BARKLEY to just 215 total yards, including 149 passing and 66 rushing. The only touchdown they gave up was after the “interception” that bounced off of Mike Evans’ hands right into the hands of Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson giving them the ball on the Bucs 2 yard line. They only had 15 first downs for the game and were a combined 2 of 12 on third and fourth down conversions. The Giants had the ball for just 24 minutes and averaged just 4 yards per play. The Bucs D harassed Daniel Jones for the entire game, even though they only had 2 sacks late in the game by reserves Cam Gill and Anthony Nelson; and forced 3 turnovers, including interceptions by Mike Edwards and Steve McLendon. After Week 11, the Bucs defense is now 8th in total defense, 10th in scoring defense, 1st against the run, 17th against the pass, and 8th in Red Zone defense.
The Rookie’s New Role
Joe Tryon-Shoyinka had a coming-out party of sorts against the Giants. With Vita Vea out, Todd Bowles tried a new-look defensive front with Tryon-Shoyinka at the three-tech instead of his normal edge-rushing position. He played 50% of the defensive snaps, the most he’s played while JPP was on the field, and wreaked absolute havoc in the New York backfield. He may have only finished with 2 tackles in this game, but he pressured Daniel Jones all day long. Anyway, the Bucs should find a way to get this kid on the field; they should do it because he’s an absolute stud.
The Return of Gronk
Even though he didn’t get a “tuddy“, Rob Gronkowski breathed new life into the Bucs offense finishing this game with 6 catches for 71 yards in his first game back since getting injured in Week 3 versus the Rams. His presence alone out there changes the whole offense, and it was good to see him back.
The Record by Evans
Mike Evans was the leading receiver in this game with 6 catches for 73 yards. He also caught his 10th touchdown of the year, which put him as the Buccaneers’ all-time leader with 72 touchdowns taking over that spot from the great Mike Alstott. He is now the ONLY active player in the NFL who is the all-time leader for the team he is on.
The Injury of Marpet
Unfortunately, the Bucs’ injury woes continued in this game when Ali Marpet left with an oblique strain. It doesn’t sound like it’s anything too serious, but it kept him from finishing the game. Those can be nagging-type injuries that linger, so let’s hope that’s not the case for him. Luckily, Aaron Stinnie was able to step in and do a pretty decent job filling his shoes.
The Drop by Evans
Evans had a solid game, but the one mistake that he did make was HUGE. Tom Brady attempted a quick screen pass to Evans in the 2nd quarter, which bounced off of his chest plate straight into the hands of Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson at the Bucs 15 yard line. Jackson returned the “interception” to the Bucs 5 yard line, and New York punched it in for a touchdown. It was one of the few mistakes made by the Buccaneers in this game, but it was costly.
The 2nd Half Snooze
For some reason, the Bucs are having trouble closing out games. Whether it’s the offense not producing in the second half, or the defense giving up leads, it always seems like it’s something. In this game, it was the offense. After they scored early in the third quarter to make it a 24-10 game, the Bucs’ offense seemed to take their foot off of the accelerator. Up to that point, they had put up 347 yards and 24 points in 53 plays. After that score, they had just 55 yards and 6 points in 25 plays. I would like to see this team finish their opponents off for a change. No letting up. No slowing down. No mercy. I want the other coach to accuse Bruce Arians of running up the score. I want this team to earn the respect of their oppo ends by disrespecting them as much as possible. Am I wrong about that?
The Officiating, As Usual
The Bucs were only called for 6 penalties for just 39 yards in this game, but two of the calls were costly. The first was a “hold” on Tristan Wirfs on a long pass play to Chris Godwin that took a sure touchdown off the board. From what I’ve seen, it wasn’t a “hold” at all. It was a fantastic block by the second-year player. The second was the “illegal formation” called on Mike Evans that negated a HUGE 29 yard gain on a screen pass to Leonard Fournette. Instead of having 1st & 10 on the Giants 15 yard line, they had 1st & 15 from the Giants 49 yard line. On the replay, it appeared that Evans was lined up correctly; even the announcers said so. However, it was another call that had a big effect on the game.
This was a “get right” game for Tampa Bay. They needed this kind of win to get things back on the right track and remind them of what they’re capable of, even if they didn’t play up to their potential. They were without Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller, and even Ali Marpet for some of this game on offense. They were without Vita Vea, Carlton Davis, and Richard Sherman for this game on defense. That was a decent Giants team that they just manhandled all night, and it was just what the doctor ordered. Hopefully, this win is the shot in the arm they needed to get ready for a serious playoff run.
At 7-3, the Bucs sit in the 3rd spot in the NFC standings and have a 2-game lead on the Saints for the NFC South. This team has been battling injuries all season, but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. They got Sean Murphy-Bunting and Rob Gronkowski back for this game. They could have Scotty Miller and Vita Vea back for next week’s game against the Colts. There’s an outside chance they could have Ali Marpet, Antonio Brown, and Carlton Davis back in time for Indy as well, depending on what happens at practice on Friday. This team is getting healthy at the right time, and no team in the NFL is looking forward to that.
The Bucs are facing a good 6-5 Colts team, on the road, on a short week, that has won three straight and five of their last six games. Indy is coming off of a dominating performance against the Buffalo Bills, where they won 41-15 and opened a lot of people’s eyes around the league. They’re playing good football right now. The Bucs will have to play better football than they’ve played all season to get this win. We’ll see if they can on Sunday.
Until then, as always, GO BUCS!!!