Each Buccaneers game seems to have the same story. Get down early, come back in the 2nd half, fall short of said comeback. That has happened one too many times this season. The Bucs fell to the New York Giants by a score of 38-35. They are now 3-7 and the season is pretty much done. Is there any positives at this point? The kicker made all of his kicks!
How They Started
The Bucs won the toss and elected to defer. That was their first mistake in this game. The Giants drove down with ease and they ran Saquon Barkley early and often, Eli Manning hit Odell Beckham Jr on a 41 yard gain, then Manning threw a pass to a wide open Barkley and before anyone could say “Wreak Havoc” the Bucs were down 7 points. The offense got the ball and drove all the way down to the Giants 5 yard line when they faced a 4th and 1. They ran a QB sneak with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzpatrick was stuffed for no gain. So yet another drive that the Bucs got into the red zone and ended with zero points. The Giants again drove down with ease and scored another touchdown. It was 14-0 early and things were looking to get out of hand. The Bucs and Giants would trade punts and that led to Fitzpatrick leading the Bucs on a drive that ended with a touchdown on a Fitzpatrick scramble. Cairo Santos’ extra point was good and the Giants lead was now just seven. The Bucs defense forced the Giants to punt and the Bucs were in a great position to tie the game at 14 before Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an awful pass intended for O.J. Howard that was picked off by the Giants. Another wasted opportunity by this offense. They had the opportunity to gain some momentum before halftime and blew it. The Giants ran one more play and that did it for the half. The Bucs were down a touchdown and they were lucky the deficit was that small.
At The Half
The Bucs for some cannot seem to get started fast, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Giants offense was doing whatever they wanted early in the game but once the defense settled in a bit, they started to play better. As for the offense, the turnovers cannot happen. They just can’t happen. Fitzpatrick played okay, not perfect. That last throw of his was bad. If they want to win football games, they have to limit the turnovers somehow. The Bucs got the ball to start the 2nd half and they now had another opportunity to tie this game up.
How They Finished
The 2nd half is normally when the Buccaneers games get interesting and this one was no different. On the 2nd play of the half, Fitzpatrick threw a pass to Desean Jackson that was tipped up in the air and picked off by the Giants and they returned it for 6 points. The score was now 21-7 and the Bucs horrible defense did not even come onto the field yet! After that turnover, many fans were calling for QB Jameis Winston to come in but Head Coach Dirk Koetter elected to stick with Fitzpatrick and that decision was not the right one. On the next drive, Fitzpatrick launched a ball straight in the air that was picked off by the Giants again. I do not know what Fitzpatrick was trying to do but it did not work. The Giants would kick a field goal to make it 24-7, then things got real interesting. The Bucs came into the field and so did Jameis Winston. It was his turn yet again and he led the Bucs on a drive that ended with a touchdown, just not the way you would have drawn it up. Winston was scrambling and took off, he fumbled the ball and the ball went into the endzone, Mike Evans was able to recover the ball in the endzone for the touchdown. Hey, anything you can do to score points right? The defense unfortunately could not come up with a stop and allowed Manning to throw a touchdown pass to Beckham in the back of the endzone to make the score 31-14. The Bucs needed a big time drive and got one that ended with Peyton Barber heading into the endzone for a touchdown. The Giants lead was now 31-21. The Bucs defense needed a stop and they got it. The Bucs got the ball back and Winston led them on a fantastic drive. Winston hit Adam Humphries on a slant for the touchdown. The score was now 31-28 and the Bucs had some real momentum. That momentum was put away when the Giants scored another touchdown that pretty much put the game out of reach. It was 38-28 with less than 4 minutes to go. The offense did not give up though, instead Winston tossed a 41 yard touchdown to Mike Evans. It was a beautiful throw and catch and the Bucs set themselves up to attempt an onside kick. Being down by 3, they tried the onside kick but it failed and the Giants got the ball. They then ran the ball a few times and the Giants had to punt with 30 seconds left. The Bucs were going to have one more shot but that ended when Winston threw up a prayer for Desean Jackson, Jackson did not seem to give 100% effort, which is unacceptable and the pass was picked off. Another winnable game down the drain.
You have to wonder why Fitzpatrick was not taken out after the pick 6. Winston was sharp today and the Bucs may have won this game had he came in sooner. The defense was very hot and cold but when the Bucs needed them to come up with a big stop, they just couldn’t. Yet again another week where the defense has forced no turnovers. The Bucs turned the ball over today 4 times and that was 4 times too many. They will not win football games if they continue to turn the ball over like this. Winston looked good, Santos was 100% on his kicks, that’s about all I got from this game as far as positives go. The Bucs play the 49ers next week and Jameis Winston should absolutely be your starter. If he’s not, then Dirk Koetter may have shown himself the door early.