RB Earnest Graham's touchdown run gave the Bucs an early lead, but the Giants answered with 14 second-quarter points
It was a tale of two quarters in the first half, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated the opening stanza before the New York Giants roared back in the second to take a 14-7 lead at the half.
The Buccaneers' defense came out firing on all cylinders, forcing New York to go three-and-out on its first three possessions and holding the Giants to negative-two total net yards in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, the offense looked equally impressive early on, as Jeff Garcia and Earnest Graham moved the team down the field on the Bucs' second possession of the game, capped by Graham's one-yard touchdown run that put the Bucs up 7-0. Graham accounted for 41 of the 54 yards on the drive, carrying the ball six times for 27 yards and also picking up 14 yards on a short pass from Garcia.
The Giants weren't about to give in, however, tying the score at seven early in the second quarter on a five-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Brandon Jacobs. Jacobs then scored on an eight-yard run later in the quarter as the Bucs offense struggled to move the ball.
Garcia went 11-for-20 for 79 yards, but Manning outdid him in the first half, going 11-of-14 for 108 yards and a touchdown. Although he accounted for only 23 total yards of offense, Jacobs notched both of the Giants' scores as the teams headed to their locker rooms with the score standing 14-7 in favor of New York.
- The Giants won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick. Domenik Hixon took the kickoff and returned it to the New York 32-yard line, where Eli Manning and the Giants' offense took over. Manning rolled out on first down and hit tight end Kevin Boss for a four-yard gain. Brandon Jacobs took a pitch to the left on second down but was dragged down by Barrett Ruud for a loss of two. On third-and-eight, Manning's pass intended for David Tyree came up short and hit the ground for an incompletion. Jeff Feagles' punt was fair caught by Ike Hilliard at the Bucs' 22-yard line. * On first down, Earnest Graham burrowed ahead for a gain of two, then squirted to the left for another four yards on second down. Facing third-and-four, Garcia stepped up and hit Joey Galloway for nine yards and a first down. Galloway then took an end around, but was stopped behind the line for a loss of four. But Michael Clayton took a quick pass to the left and sprinted ahead for 13 yards. On third-and-one, B.J. Askew hurdled over the pile for three yards, moving the sticks again. Garcia was then flushed from the pocket before throwing incomplete on first down. A delay of game penalty moved the Bucs back five yards before Garcia again threw incomplete, this time over the middle. On third-and-15 at the Tampa Bay 44-yard line, Garcia took a shot deep down the right sideline for Galloway, but the pass was a bit off target, and the Bucs were forced to punt. Josh Bidwell's punt rolled out of bounds at the New York 14-yard line. * Jacobs took the carry on first down and picked up three yards up the middle, then Manning hit Steve Smith for a six-yard gain on second down. On third-and-one, Jacobs was stuffed in the backfield as the Bucs' defense forced its second-consecutive three-and-out. Hilliard fielded Feagles' punt and took it ahead one yard before being swallowed up by the Giants' coverage team, and the Bucs offense took over at its own 46-yard line. * Garcia took another shot to Galloway down the field on first down, but overthrew him on the play for an incompletion. Graham then broke free from a tackle and raced ahead for 11 yards and a first down. Garcia then hit Clayton on a quick slant for 11 more yards and another first down. Graham took the next carry and busted up the middle for a nice gain of seven yards before another Graham carry picked up two yards, leaving the Bucs with a third-and-short situation at the New York 23. Garcia took the quarterback sneak up the middle and picked up the first down. Graham picked up only a yard on a run to the right before Michael Strahan dragged him down, then Garcia checked down on a short pass to Graham that went for 14 yards, setting the Bucs up with first-and-goal at the New York six-yard line. Graham then stumbled ahead for five yards to the one-yard line before plowing in on second down for the touchdown. The extra point gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead with 1:49 to go in the first quarter. * Matt Bryant's kickoff was taken by Hixon and returned to the New York 25-yard line. Jovan Haye burst through the line on first down and dragged Jacobs down for a four-yard loss before Manning was forced to burn the Giants first timeout of the half. Gaines Adams then jumped into the neutral zone, giving the Giants five free yards. On second-and-nine, Tanard Jackson dove in front of a Manning pass, knocking to the ground for an incompletion. The third-down play saw Adams make up for his penalty, flying around the right side and sacking Manning for an eight-yard loss. Feagles came on to punt for the third time, and Hilliard fair caught this one at the Tampa Bay 33-yard line. * Graham took the first carry of the drive and was swallowed up for a three-loss as the first quarter came to an end. Hilliard then took a quick pass to the right for a gain of only one. On third-and-12, Garcia eluded a sack but fired just short of Galloway, and Bidwell came on to punt. The short punt was fielded by R.W. McQuarters and returned to the New York 47-yard line. * Manning fired a short pass to the right on first down to Plaxico Burress for a gain of four, then hit Amani Toomer for a gain of 17 and a first down. Jacobs picked up three yards up the middle, then Manning found Toomer again, this time for 10 yards and another first down. With the ball at the Tampa Bay 19-yard line, Jacobs ran to the right for a gain of only one before Manning's pass for Smith across the middle fell incomplete. The Bucs then called timeout before Manning and Toomer connected for another first down, this time on a 13-yard pass over the middle. On first-and-goal at the six-yard line, Manning dumped a short pass to Jacobs who plowed across the goal line for a touchdown as the Giants tied it up at seven with 10:02 remaining in the half. * Micheal Spurlock took the ensuing kickoff to the Tampa Bay 21-yard line, where Garcia and the offense took over. On first down, Garcia's short pass over the middle intended for Anthony Becht fell incomplete before Strahan powered his way into the backfield on second down and brought Garcia down for a five-yard sack. On third-and-15, Garcia dumped a short pass to Michael Pittman that picked up only four yards, and the Bucs were forced to punt. McQuarters fielded the bouncing ball and was quickly dropped at the New York 35-yard line. * Ahmad Bradshaw took the first-down carry and picked up eight yards before Manning completed an 11-yard pass to Burress that moved the Giants into Tampa Bay territory. On first down at the Bucs 46-yard line, Burress picked up another nine yards on a leaping grab before Bradshaw was stuffed for a one-yard loss on a pitch to the left. Facing third-and-two, Manning pumped right before hitting Smith over the middle for a huge 21-yard gain and a first down. Manning then found Bradshaw for an eight-yard gain before Jacobs blasted through the left side for an eight-yard touchdown run. The extra point made it 14-7 in favor of the Giants with 4:06 remaining in the half. * Spurlock fielded the kickoff and was taken down at the Tampa Bay 26-yard line. Graham picked up two yards up the middle on first down before Garcia hit Askew out of the backfield on second down for another five yards. On third-and-three at the 33, Garcia eluded the pressure and threw a strike over the middle to Pittman for seven yards and a first down. Garcia's next pass sailed over the head of Graham for an incompletion before another short pass to Graham picked up two yards as the clock wound down to the two-minute warning. On third down, Hilliard made a fantastic grab as he was falling down to pick up eight yards, just enough to move the sticks. Garcia then hit Alex Smith on a short pass to the left for four yards before tight coverage on Galloway forced an incompletion on second down. Facing third-and-six at the New York 48, Garcia fired incomplete over the middle to Hilliard and Bidwell came on to punt. McQuarters called for a fair catch at the Giants' 17-yard line with just over a minute to go until halftime. * Jacobs burst ahead on first down for nine yards before being strung out on a carry to the right for no gain, and the first half drew to a close with the Giants leading 14-7.