Pictures of some of the Giants' top players.
There was a time when the typical Buccaneers-Giants matchup was a gritty, low-scoring affair. It would probably be good for Tampa Bay if the series trended back in that direction.
The Buccaneers have two good stretches in their all-time shared history with New York, winning three of four from 1979-84 and three of four from 1997-03. In each case, Tampa Bay's run began at the exact same time the franchise was turning things around after a rough stretch. That's a bit of history the Buccaneers would like to try to replicate when the Giants visit Raymond James Stadium this Sunday.
As it stands, however, the Giants have won five straight in the series and they've done it by scoring points in bunches. New York averaged just over 30 points per outing in its most recent four victories, with quarterback Eli Manning tossing a total of nine touchdown passes (and, to the Bucs' credit, five interceptions). That included a Wild Card playoff game in Tampa after the 2007 season.
Prior to those four games, the Buccaneers and Giants had met 16 previous times and New York had never scored more than 23 points in any game. The Bucs had put up 31 and 30 in wins in 1979 and 1980, but otherwise they too had usually had their scoring held in check. In fact, there was a very repetitive nature to the scores of the Bucs-Giants all-time series until New York's recent run.
Consider that the first three times the Buccaneers played the Giants in New York (or, to be more precise, New Jersey), the final score was 17-14 every time. Consider also that the Buccaneers and the Giants, while not sharing a division, played home-and-home series in 1978, 1979 and 1984. That's a relatively rare thing the Bucs have only done six other times in team history. Or consider that the last time the Buccaneers won two games in a row in this matchup, in 1997 and '98, the scores were nearly identical (20-8 and 20-3).
Tampa Bay's last victory in the series came in 2003. Overall, the Giants lead the series 12-6 (plus the one playoff win), although the Buccaneers do have a 5-6 record against New York in games played in Tampa, which will be the site of this Sunday's reunion.
The Buccaneers first drew the Giants as an opponent in 1977, when they were still in the midst of their 26-game franchise-opening losing streak. The Buccaneers would make a rather remarkable rise from those depths to the NFC Championship Game in 1979, but in their second year they were still trying to climb out of the terrible circumstances granted expansion teams in that era. This particular loss was a little more painful than most of those 26, though, because the Buccaneers actually out-gained the Giants, 287 to 197 total yards, held QB Joe Pisarcik to six completions and New York rushers to 2.8 yards per carry. Tampa Bay couldn't pull off the upset, however, because – amazingly – they drove into the red zone six times without scoring a single point. Blame that on five turnovers, including three Jeb Blount interceptions.
The Bucs and Giants would meet three more times over the next two seasons, and all three would be decided by six points or less. Those two teams would open the '78 season together at Tampa Stadium, with rookie quarterback Doug Williams making his NFL debut but leaving after just five passes due to a shoulder injury. Once again turnovers were the key in a 19-13 decision, as the Bucs gave it away four times (including two interceptions thrown by reserve QB Gary Huff) and the Giants only coughed it up once. In the October rematch at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, RB Jimmy DuBose racked up 109 yards and a touchdown, part of a 164-yard outing by the Bucs' running game as the visitors took a 14-3 lead into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the memorable duo of Harry Carson and Larry Csonka powered a 14-point comeback for another Giant victory. Carson intercepted a Williams pass and recovered a Louis Carter fumble on consecutive Buccaneer drives and Csonka turned both takeaways into rushing touchdowns.
The 1979 two-game set was a split, with the Giants stopping Tampa Bay's five-game season-opening winning streak but the Buccaneers getting revenge with a much-needed win in November. In the first meeting, Tampa Bay's defense – which was in the midst of taking the league by storm – held Phil Simms and the New York passing attack to 37 yards on six-of-12 passing and also sacked Simms twice for 19 yards. The resulting 18 net passing yards remain the third-lowest total Tampa Bay has ever allowed in a game. Unfortunately, the New York rushing attack, led by Billy Taylor (148 yards and two touchdowns) racked up 202 yards and the Giants held off a Buc rally for another one of those 17-14 victories. When the two teams met again, the Buccaneers had seen their 5-0 start slip a bit to 8-3 by mid-November, but a thorough domination of the Giants would help them keep on track for their first division title. Ricky Bell ran for 152 yards and 6.9 yards per carry and Doug Williams tossed two touchdown passes to Larry Mucker as the Bucs ran away with a 31-3 victory at Tampa Stadium. The Bucs treated Simms harshly again, picking him off twice and sacking him five times, two by DE Lee Roy Selmon.
After those five meetings in a three-year span, the Bucs and Giants would only get together once in the next four seasons, and that one also ended in Tampa Bay's favor. The 1980 season was the only lull in a run of three playoff campaigns in four years for the Bucs, but their best outing of the season was a 30-13 pounding of the Giants powered by Bell. The Bucs' lead back ran 26 times for 130 yards and two scores and the Bucs defense again picked off Simms twice, this time courtesy of Richard Wood and Mike Washington.
The third home-and-home coupling of the Bucs and Giants revived the series in 1984 and ended in a split. The Bucs started it with their third trip to the Meadowlands, so of course the game ended in a 17-14 Giants win. The game was dominated by each team's star player, as James Wilder ran for 112 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 65 more yards, but the Giants' Lawrence Taylor sacked Steve DeBerg four times. Adger Armstrong scored on a one-yard run after a 35-yard catch-and-run by Wilder to pull the Bucs within three points with four minutes to play, but New York's offense got three first downs and was able to run out the clock. The Giants then came to Tampa in Week 11 and for the first time in the series the Bucs won a close game. Wilder got another 99 yards and a touchdown, going over 1,000 yards for the season and DeBerg threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kevin House to tie the game at 10-10 in the third quarter. The Buccaneers scored the next 10 points and then held on for a 20-17 win when Wilder recovered a Giants onside kick attempt. Somehow the Bucs held Taylor without a sack, which made a significant difference in the outcome.
The Bucs went back to New York in 1985 and managed to score more than 14 points but still lost, 22-20. Jimmie Giles scored twice but the Bucs fell to 0-9 when a third-down completion that would have put them on the edge of field goal territory with 33 seconds left was erased by a holding penalty and DeBerg was intercepted on the next play. The teams wouldn't get back together again until 1991, this one ending in a 21-14 Giants win in Tampa. Vinny Testaverde absorbed seven sacks, 4.5 of them by Pepper Martin, but the game was still tied in the fourth quarter after a Willie Drewrey touchdown catch. Simms's 30-yard touchdown pass to Sam Baker provided the winning points and Johnson sealed it with an interception. The Giants made it a three-game winning streak in 1993 when they spoiled QB Craig Erickson's first start in a 23-7 win in the Meadowlands.
Tampa Bay had started its long run of playoff contention by the time the Giants and Bucs met again in 1997. This proved to be the Buccaneers' only win so far in New Jersey, as Tampa Bay's emerging defensive power was on full display in a 20-8 decision. The Giants got to that unusual point total with two field goals and a safety earned when Trent Dilfer was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. Otherwise, the Giants managed just 202 yards and Danny Kanell was picked off twice. It was still just 13-8 in the fourth quarter until John Lynch had a huge fourth-and-one stop of Tyrone Wheatley at midfield and Errict Rhett followed with a touchdown on the only rushing yard he would gain in the game.
The 1998 rematch in Tampa was an even greater showcase of the Bucs' dominant defense, as Kanell was picked off three times (one returned for a TD by Charles Mincy) and the Giants gained just 135 total yards of offense. Twin brothers Tiki Barber and Ronde Barber opposed each other for the first time ever (Ronde was inactive for the 1997 game), and Ronde helped hold his sibling to eight yards of offense while also providing one of the Buccaneers' interceptions. The Bucs couldn't pass against the Giants' defense, either, as Dilfer was sacked five times and picked off once while passing for just 85 yards, but the Thunder & Lightning duo of Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn accounted for 149 rushing yards and Alstott's game-sealing TD in the fourth quarter.
After missing the playoffs in 1998, the Bucs would return to the postseason in 1999 and make it all the way to the NFC Championship Game in St. Louis. However, the season began with a 17-13 loss to the Giants in Tampa. This was an intensely frustrating game for the Buccaneers because this time they held New York to 107 yards of total offense, the second lowest total allowed in team history. Unfortunately, Dilfer was picked off three times, one returned for a touchdown, and lost a fumble that also went the other way for six. Dilfer was eventually benched for Eric Zeier but Zeier was picked off in the final two minutes to seal the loss.
The Bucs were defending champs in 2003 but they had an up-and-down season that ended in a 7-9 record and no return to the playoffs. They did make the most of their third Monday Night Football appearance of the year, however, beating the Giants, 19-13, in November. Continuing the theme, it was another oppressive outing for the defense, as the Giants gained just 212 yards and Kerry Collins was sacked three times and picked off twice. Keenan McCardell caught nine passes for 83 yards and Charles Lee added a 53-yard touchdown catch for the Buccaneers, who never trailed but did have to hold off a rally thanks to a Frank Walker pick-six in the fourth quarter.
The Giants took advantage of struggling Buccaneer teams in 2006 and 2009. The Bucs had rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski starting in their 2006 trip to the Meadowlands, and he had to deal with an extremely windy afternoon. The Bucs surprisingly threw the ball 48 times and ran Cadillac Williams just eight times for 20 yards, and that led to a 174-yard day in a 17-3 loss. In 2009, the Bucs started the season 0-7 and the Giants came visiting in Week Three, leaving with an easy 24-0 victory. Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson split the quarterback duties for Tampa Bay as the Giants defense held the home team to 86 yards of offense, the third-lowest total in Bucs team history.
The most recent Bucs-Giants game in New Jersey was a wild affair in the new MetLife Stadium in 2012. Josh Freeman threw touchdown passes to Vincent Jackson (128 yards on the day) and Mike Williams, cornerback Eric Wright scored on a 60-yard pick-six and rookie Doug Martin ran for another score as the Bucs put up 307 yards of offense. Unfortunately, Eli Manning and the Giants had 604 yards of their own, including 510 through the air by Manning. The Bucs tied the game on Williams' acrobatic 41-yard score with two minutes left but Manning then hit Hakeem Nicks on a 50-yard bomb to set up Andre Brown's two-yard TD run. A catch by Williams that would have put the ball at New York's 16 with 12 seconds to play was overturned on replay and Freeman was picked off on the next play.
The most recent meeting, in the middle of the 2015 season, was a little closer than the 32-18 final score indicates, although the visiting Giants never trailed again after going up 10-6 in the first quarter. Jameis Winston scored on a 10-yard scramble with nine minutes left in regulation to make the score 20-18, but the Buccaneers failed on the two-point conversion try. The Giants then chewed up most of the rest of the clock on two field goal drives and the Bucs' last-ditch effort to pitch the ball around in the final seconds turned into a fumble and a return touchdown to add to New York's final tally.
Bucs-Giants Game-by-Game Record:
|1978||L, 17-14||New York|
|1979||L, 17-14||New York|
|1984||L, 17-14||New York|
|1985||L, 22-20||New York|
|1993||L, 23-7||New York|
|1997||W, 20-8||New York|
|2006||L, 17-3||New York|
|2012||L, 41-34||New York|
Bucs-Giants Game-by-Game Postseason Record:
Series Notes (regular season):
- Overall Season Series: Giants lead, 13-6
- Bucs' Home Record: 5-6
- Bucs' Road Record: 1-7
- Current Streak: Lose 4 (2006-15)
- Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 2 (1979-80; 1997-98)
- Giants' Longest Winning Streak: 4 (1977-79; 2006-15)
- Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 304, Giants 334
- Most Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Giants 41-34 (2012)
- Most Points in a Game, Giants: Giants 41-34 (2012)
- Most Points, both teams: 75, Giants 41-34 (2012)
- Fewest Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Giants 10-0 (1977), Giants 24-0 (2009)
- Fewest Points in a Game, Giants: Buccaneers 31-3 (1979), Buccaneers 20-3 (1998)
- Fewest Points in a Game, both teams: 10, Giants 10-0 (1977)