Week 9 Tale Of The Tape: New York Giants At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QuarterbackEli Manning threw six TD passes at New Orleans last week, but it wasn’t enough to get the Giants a win. The Giants have had problems with their end-of-game management since the start of the season, and poor decision-making has played a role in three of their four defeats. Some of this is on Manning’s shoulders, and it is keeping the Giants from winning consistently.Jameis Winston is making steady improvement for the Bucs, and he played an important role in their Week Eight win at Atlanta. He has a strong arm, sees the field well and his decision-making is improving. Winston appears to be maturing and his concentration level is much higher than it was during his college career, when his effort was not always consistent.
- OffenseThe Giants have explosive receivers who can make big plays and put points on the board in an instant. Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the best receivers in the NFL and while his signature is the spectacular catch, he can also make the tough reception on third-down plays. Rueben Randle has been a solid complement, while Shane Vereen excels at catching passes out of the backfield.Doug Martin has helped give the Bucs a semblance of a running game as he has rushed for 612 yards and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Mike Evans is a big-play receiver who combines size and strength with outstanding route-running ability. Vincent Jackson (knee) could not play in the Week Eight win at Atlanta, and his status is doubtful.
- DefenseThe Giants were shell-shocked by Drew Brees and they have had big issues defending the pass all season. It’s nearly impossible for the Giants to cover receivers downfield and unless defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul can overcome his July 4 mishap and provide a pass rush, it’s not likely to get better. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has three interceptions, but he has been burned in coverage.The Bucs have a hard-hitting defense and they have played much better this year for Lovie Smith than they did a year ago. Lovie Smith’s teams have consistently played effectively on defense through the years, and this team is no different. Linebacker Lavonte David has a team-high 58 tackles, while defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has 4.5 sacks and can wreak havoc with his quickness.
- Special TeamsThe Giants were able to win in Week Seven because of their special teams when Dwayne Harris returned a kickoff for a TD vs. Dallas and the punt coverage team recovered a late fumble. However, Brad Wing’s poor punt against the Saints played a key role in the Week Eight loss.The Bucs have done a much better job in punt and kickoff coverage than they did a year ago when special teams were awful. Bobby Rainey is a hard-working return man who has been effective. Connor Barth has been perfect (9-of-9) since replacing Kyle Brindza.
The Giants are going to be pushed to the limit by the improving Bucs, and if they can’t avoid key mistakes in the fourth quarter, they could lose once again. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports