Monday, September 17, 2012

Eli Leads Giants Comeback over Buccaneers

Sunday, September 16 2012
Post Game Recap
Final Score: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 34 New York Giants: 41
Eli Leads Giants Comeback over Bucs

The second game for the season started off poorly for the Giants, much like the opening night game against the Cowboys; this time around, the Giants were able to get it together and mount a successful comeback against the Buccaneers, pulling out the 41-34 win.  The Giants were down 27-13 early in the third quarter before they came storming back behind the heroics of Eli Manning.

Manning was awful in the first half of the game, throwing three interceptions.  The interception before the half by Eric Wright was returned 60 yards for a touchdown, as all three of Manning’s interceptions led to touchdowns for the Buccaneers.  The first interception off Manning was by linebacker Mason Foster and put the Buccaneers at the Giants 28 yard line.  The second, by Brandon McDonald, seemed to be caused by a hold on Victor Cruz that was not called and put the Buccaneers at the 26 yard line after a 40-yard return and ending at the 13 after Andre Brown was called for a horse collar tackle.

Manning bounced back in a strong way in the second half, looking more like the quarterback that led the Giants on a Super Bowl run last season.  Manning threw two touchdown passes with under seven minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, an 80-yard one to Cruz and a 33-yard touchdown toss to Martellus Bennett.

 After the Giants defense surrendered the lead on, Manning marched the offense back down the field for a third time and the game winning touchdown score by Brown. 

Manning light up the Buccaneers defense for a career high 510 passing yards.  One reason for Manning’s success was the pass protection off the offensive line and running backs; Manning was not sacked once in his 51 drop backs and was only hit twice. 

With Manning having such a big afternoon, the receivers also benefited with monster games.  Cruz, playing with a heavy heart after the passing of his grandmother earlier in the week, caught 11 passes for 179 yards and the 80-yard touchdown.  Nine of the 11 catches came in the first half alone for Cruz, as he bounced back in a big way after dropping three passes in the opener against Dallas. 

Hakeem Nicks was not to be upstaged by his teammate, as he also had a monster game.  Nicks reeled in 10 balls for 199 yards and a touchdown, dominating the Buccaneers secondary, specifically cornerback Aqib Talib, whose holding and penalties couldn’t even slow down Nicks.  Nicks looked to be limping a few times after falling and being tackled awkwardly, but was able to finish the game and have a major impact.

New tight end Bennett had another strong game for the Giants after coming over from the Cowboys in the off-season.  Bennett had a rough first half, having a touchdown pass hit him in the facemask, but bounced back like all the other Giants in the second half when he made an adjustment and made a great catch on his 33-yard touchdown.  Bennett finished with five receptions for 72 yards and the touchdown.

After losing starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw to a neck injury, the Giants had to turn to Brown as the lead back and he responded well.  Coming in the game, Brown had -1 career yards, but was able to bring a dimension to the Giants they have been lacking in a running game.  Brown ran for 71 yards on 11 carries and the game winning touchdown, also converting a critical two-point conversion in the 4th quarter to tie the game up at 27.  Brown’s performance definitely earned him more playing time, as he showcased both power, speed and ball security, something the coaching staff holds in high regard.

In addition to Bradshaw, the Giants suffered more injuries in the first half.  Wide receiver Domenik Hixon was knocked out of the game with a concussion and starting right tackle David Diehl was knocked out with an MCL injury.  The injury to Diehl forced the Giants to do some shuffling across their offensive line, as Sean Locklear was moved to right tackle and Will Beatty was brought in to play left tackle. 

Beatty struggled in the first half, a common theme for all of the Giants, as he dropped a high pass from Manning as the extra tight end and committed two false start penalties.

Again for the Giants the defensive backfield struggled.  Corey Webster struggled at times in the first half, giving up big plays to Vincent Jackson, who finished the game with five receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown.  Webster was able to redeem himself later in the second half, intercepting Josh Freeman. 

Michael Coe surrendered the touchdown to Jackson in the first half, but like Webster was able to redeem himself with stronger play in the second half.  Coe did not start the game, as Jayron Hosley got his first career start.  Coe would come in and play the outside when Hosley would slide over and be the slot corner.

The end of the game also saw a confrontation between head coaches Tom Coughlin and Greg Schiano.  Coughlin was upset that the Buccaneers defensive linemen went down and cut center David Baas knees and knocking down Manning, even though the Giants were kneeing and were in "victory formation".  Coughlin and Schiano shared heated words after the game shaking hands, when Coughlin was visibly upset with what had happened. 

Next up for the Giants is a visit to Carolina to play against Cam Newton and the Panthers.  It is a quick turnaround for the Giants, as they play the Panthers Thursday night.

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