Diary of a Giants Fan: Giants Come Back to Beat Buccaneers – Grades
In what was likely the most exciting game of the weekend, the Giants battled back to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Well, they won the damn game. And unless you're the liberal art type who chooses to wax poetic on the team's grit and fight, there's not much else to say about this one. Luckily for you all, I am such a bleeding-heart yahoo. After all, I spent much of the game yo-yoing between bemused disappointment and full on anger - it's nice to look back on the positives.
There weren't many of those in the first half, as a combination of missed opportunities, Eli Manning turnovers and the kind of infuriatingly poor secondary play Giant fans have come to know, kept the game unquestionably tilted toward the Bucs. 24-13 leaders at the half, the Buccaneers had picked off Manning three times, including one of the "returned-for-a-touchdown" variety to put an exclamation point on sentence of suck that had been the first two quarters.
A half opening Bucs field goal deepened the Giants' hole, but Manning and company quickly took to the task of digging out with two consecutive field goals. Still, missed opportunities remained the order of the day, and as time clicked away in the fourth quarter, the Giants still trailed by eight. That was until the ghosts of 2011 emerged and pulled the Big Blue back into the game. A brilliant pass from Manning found Cruz, who sprinted 80 yards into the end zone - helping Giant fans forget last week's drops, a premature autobiography, and a commercial schedule that would make Peyton Manning blush.
Following the tying two point conversion, a Black Unicorn sighting put the Giants on top, as Manning and Bennett connected for a touchdown with four minutes to play. The resulting high could be matched only by the immensity of the low when the secondary once again fell apart and Mike Williams made a circus catch to tie the game. Still, the Giants showed their determination today, fighting back from the horror that was the first three quarters, and the disappointment of immediately losing the lead they'd finally claimed. They'd score on an Andre Brown run on the next possession and survive late for the 41-34 win.
So, yeah...they won. And you don't have to be impressed with the way they did it, but you have to be impressed with the fact that they did. There's no real reason why they should have - they were clearly second best for much of the game - but they did. Once again, that New York Giant defiance rose up and overcame their deficiencies. Their fight and their grit once again got the better of any X or O for what was an enthralling victory. The intangible, conquered the tangible...Ridiculous poetic waxing over. Let's do some grades.
Grades - Defensive Line - B: You expect more out of a defensive line housing this kind of talent, but they made some good plays when needed. Solid effort overall.
Linebackers - B: They were good against the run and certainly didn't play poorly. Nothing flashy, just a quality, mistake-free game.
Defensive Backs - D: Corey Webster is having a rough year. You may not have noticed though, because so is everyone else.
Special Teams: Good, not great, but certainly not bad.
Offensive Line - B: They certainly didn't dominate, so an A can't be thrown down, but it was definitely a solid game for this unit.
Running Backs - A-: Revelation: they name is Andre Brown. Stepping in for Ahmad Bradshaw who exited stage left with a neck injury, Brown had a huge impact on the game. A series of tough, hard runs netted the back 71 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries, and kept the Bucs at least thinking about the run late - while Manning picked apart their secondary.
Wide Receivers - A: I could be a cynic and focus on the still too many drops, but I'd rather focus on the 21 catches, 378 yards, and two touchdowns for which Cruz and Nicks combined. This was the dream Giant fans - exactly what you hope for when you have these guys on the same roster.
Eli Manning - B+: Not often do you see the best and worst of a player so clearly juxtaposed, but then again, not often do you see a game like this one. Through two quarters, the Giant's signal caller looked more Kent Graham than Eli Manning, but the man was dynamic in the second half leading his team to a win. Three INTs in the first keeps it from an A, but 510 yards and three touchdowns? Dude played big.
What a win for the Giants. Not the prettiest, but one of the more thrilling and fun to be a part of. Great game. Be sure to check back mid week for more on Big Blue ahead of their Thursday night battle with the Panthers. Go Giants!