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Quick Thoughts Following Buccaneers vs. Giants

-Quarterback Jameis Winston came out of the bullpen for Tampa Bay, after starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled with turnovers during the first three quarters. The Bucs sit at -23 in turnover margin after committing four turnovers with no takeaways on the day. Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown and two of which were inside the red zone, continuing the Bucs’ red zone woes from last game. He was then pulled in favor of Winston in the third quarter, who went 12-for-16 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and one desperation interception during his quarter-and-a-half of work. He was able to rally the team back within three but fell just short as time expired.

Winston led four straight drives that resulted in touchdowns for Tampa Bay, resulting in the Bucs being four-of-five inside the red zone, a drastic improvement from last week against Washington. Winston’s first touchdown came with a little bit of luck, as Winston himself scrambled on second down at the six-yard line. The ball was stripped out of his hands but fell forward into the end zone, where wide receiver Mike Evans was there to recover, resulting in a Bucs’ touchdown. From there, Winston was firing on all cylinders. Winston hit both Evans and wide receiver Adam Humphries for passing touchdowns, the former coming on a spectacular 41-yard throw to Evans in the end zone. The Bucs had a good mix of run and pass plays all day that got running back Peyton Barber a rushing touchdown on the day, as well.

It’s as balanced an offensive attack as the Bucs have had this year, but it was the turnovers that ultimately made the difference as the Bucs sit at a -23 turnover margin for the season.

-Speaking of Barber, he set a new career high in rushing yards in New York. He finished the day with 106 yards on 18 attempts and that aforementioned rushing touchdown. That was good for a 5.9 yard-per-carry average in what was arguably one of his best career games. It also helped the Bucs’ offense out tremendously, giving them a multi-dimensional offensive attack that New York rarely had answers for. The Bucs had a total of 151 rushing yards on the day and two rushing touchdowns. Add that to 366 yards through the air and the Bucs again put up over 500 yards of total offense, scoring their second-highest point total this season.

-Kicker Cairo Santos was a perfect five-for-five on extra points, which is all he had the opportunity to kick on Sunday. He even attempted an onside kick in his first game as a Buccaneer, but you can’t ask for a better performance out of a guy that just joined the team this past week.

-The Giants, and running back Saquon Barkley in particular, went after the Bucs’ linebacking corps, which has been hit with a rash of injuries including veteran linebacker Lavonte David. New York was able to exploit the shuffling and inexperience by getting the ball to running back Saquon Barkley out of myriad positions. He ran north-south, bounced to the outside, caught screen passes and finished the day with 142 yards rushing with three total touchdowns. The Bucs did manage to stifle him in the receiving game, with Barkley gaining just 10 yards through the air. His ground success severely helped New York’s offense in the form of establishing the run so quarterback Eli Manning could run play action at-will. Manning took advantage of that, completing 17 of 18 passing with an overall passer rating of 155.8 on the day. His long came late in the game on a heave to tight end Evan Engram, right after the Bucs had pulled the score within three. It set up the dagger as Barkley was able to run in a touchdown to put the Bucs back out of reach with the clock winding down. 

-One individual performance that should be recognized is, of course, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who made good on his word to get to his former quarterback. A lot of hype was built up over JPP returning to New York for the first time, where he spent eight seasons as a man in blue. He, himself, had marked the game off as soon as he got traded to Tampa Bay in March of this year and was anxious to get going this past week leading up to the matchup. He managed 1.5 sacks on Manning throughout the day, sharing his first with defensive end Carl Nassib, who is having a great year coming off the edge. Pierre-Paul now sits at 9.5 sacks on the season, just a half a sack shy of being Tampa Bay’s first double-digit sack player since Simeon Rice in 2005.

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