Nick Juliano is still getting set up here on the blog, so I’ve been kind enough to post this story for him. Enjoy!
I’d like to first start out by admitting that I am one of many Giants fans who fell into “the trap”. You know, looking at the schedule to see who is on the slate for that 17-week annual event we call football season (and if you’re lucky, maybe your team’s season will last a few weeks longer and end in New Orleans) and picking out those games that are automatic wins. I certainly chalked up Week 2’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be one of those wins, but it just went to show you that any team has a shot to win, any time they step out onto the field. The Bucs certainly gave the Giants a run for their money.
En route to a 41-34 victory on Sunday over Tampa Bay, the Giants set both NFL and franchise records in the process. Eli Manning completed 31 of his 51 passes, racking up 510 yards in the process and setting a franchise record for passing yards (besting Y.A. Tittle’s) previous record of 505 yards from October 28, 1962 in a game against Washington). This was Big Blue’s first win in the regular season in franchise history in which they threw 50 passes. The only other game in franchise history the Giants won after throwing at least 50 passes was the 2011 NFC Championship in San Francisco. Manning threw 58 passes in that game.
Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks also established an NFL record on Sunday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Giants are the first team in NFL history to have two players with at least 10 catches and 175 receiving yards in the same game (Cruz had 11 receptions totaling 179 yards, Nicks caught 10 passes for 199 yards).
If you’re a Giants fan, the win definitely made you feel good. There was however, that glaring problem the Giants had in Week 1 vs. Dallas that resurfaced in Week 2: being unable to capitalize on the goal line. In Week 1, the Giants were unable to capitalize on a 1st and Goal starting on Dallas’ 1-yard line. A similar situation presented itself on Sunday when the Giants had a 1st and Goal on Tampa Bay’s 2-yard line. Manning couldn’t hook up with Will Beatty, Ahmad Bradshaw only advanced the ball 1 yard on the next play (David Diehl was injured on the play as well). A false start and then an incomplete pass to Martellus Bennett later and the Giants were forced to settle for a field goal.
The Giants also had the chance to take the lead heading into the half. Manning had connected with Nicks once and Cruz twice as New York advanced into Tampa Bay territory. Then cornerback Eric Turner returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown, leaving the Giants down two scores heading into halftime.
The tide started to turn late in the third quarter, something that the fans who were in attendance desperately needed as things were rather quiet until then. Kenny Phillips unleashed a huge hit on WR Vincent Jackson that broke up a passing play and brought the crowd back into it. The following play, Corey Webster picked off Josh Freeman to end the 3rd quarter.
Then the fourth quarter resembled something Giants fans became accustomed to seeing last season. Eli Manning once again led Big Blue down the comeback trail, and who did he bring into the thick of it? Victor Cruz, of course. Manning dialed up Cruz for an 80-yard touchdown pass and Andre Brown successfully completed the two-point conversion to knot the score at 27 and bring MetLife Stadium into a frenzy.
The Buccaneers certainly kept things interesting until the last few moments. Mike Williams had appeared to have successfully caught a 29-yard pass from Freeman and was forced out of bounds by Antrel Rolle at the Giants’ 19-yard line with 12 seconds remaining in the game. However, upon review it was ruled an incomplete pass as Williams had lost control of the football out-of-bounds. Michael Boley intercepted a pass from Freeman on the following play to seal the victory.
Certainly it felt good to notch that first win, but as Giants fans we want to have more confidence that when we get the ball into a goal-line scenario that we will be successful in obtaining more than a field goal out of it. The Giants have a tough task ahead of them on Thursday when they face Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. The Panthers opened up their home schedule with a 35-27 victory over Drew Brees and the division rival New Orleans Saints on Sunday. QB Cam Newton and RBs DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert rushed for a combined 219 yards. Newton racked up 253 passing yards on just 20 attempts. The Giants’ defense will certainly be kept on their toes and will need to work on stifling the running game in order to be successful on Thursday and keep consistent pressure on Newton as well.
Now I am going to take a moment to close with a meme. It may not be related to what I wrote about, other days it will be, but I’m going to leave one at the end of every article, as food for thought: