A week after giving up 251 yards on the ground and needing a field goal as time expired to beat Dallas, the defending NFC East champions (3-0) pushed the sputtering Bucs (0-3) around from start to finish.
“We had a couple of objectives coming in here,” coach Tom Coughlin said after Manning threw for two touchdowns and Brandon Jacobs(notes) and Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) led a resurgence of a powerful ground attack that was absent the previous two weeks.
“We had a game in which we didn’t play very well against the run, so we knew that we would be tested and we would have to rise up and do a better job there,” Coughlin said. “We also knew we needed to rush the ball better than we had, so we did a pretty good job with that.”
Tampa Bay, which has lost seven straight dating to an 0-4 December that cost it a playoff berth last season, was outgained 397 yards to 86 and did not have a first down until late in the third quarter.
It was the Giants’ first shutout since a 36-0 home victory over Washington in October 2005. They hadn’t blanked an opponent on the road since beating Philadelphia 23-0 in November 1983.
“They beat us down,” said Tampa Bay’s first-year coach Raheem Morris, who’s still looking for his first win.
“We were beat by a grown-man team, a team we want to be like one day,” the NFL’s youngest head coach added. “They came in here and took it to us. Out-manned us, out-gunned us. … It wasn’t even close.”
Manning completed 14 of 24 passes for 161 yards, following up on an impressive performance in a dramatic 33-31 victory at Dallas the previous week. He led a game-winning drive in the closing minutes, producing Lawrence Tynes’(notes) 37-yard field goal as time expired.
The New York star left this one after his 18-yard TD pass to Sinorice Moss(notes) put the Giants up 24-0 early in the fourth quarter. Backup David Carr(notes) and an injury-depleted defense finished up, with New York perserving a shutout by stopping the Bucs on downs at the Giants’ 5 with five minutes to go.
“Our defense was very, very, very impressive,” Jacobs said. “I knew they would come out with a chip on their shoulder.”
Manning also threw a 4-yard TD pass to Steve Smith in the second quarter, and Jacobs scored on a 6-yard run to complete an 80-yard drive on New York opening possession of the game. New York also had scoring marches of 72, 66 and 64 yards, and wound up dominating time of possession 43 minutes, 38 seconds to 16:22.
The Giants ran for 226 yards after gaining an even 200 in their first two games against the Cowboys and Washington Redskins. Bradshaw gained 104 on 14 carries, and Jacobs finished with 92 yards on 26 attempts.
New York, meanwhile, limited the Bucs to to 28 yards rushing on 10 carries. Derrick Ward(notes), who ran for 1,025 yards for the Giants last season, started against former team and was held to 2 yards on five attempts.
For the third straight week, the Bucs fell behind and were taken out of their game plan, which is to run the ball in hopes of controlling the ball and wearing down opponents, particularly on hot, humid days at home.
The Giants flipped the script by running 40 plays to Tampa Bay’s 14 in the opening half, outgaining the Bucs 215 yards to 19 and amassing a 14-0 edge in first downs while averaging just under 6 yards per carry on the ground.
New York’s Justin Tuck(notes) played, despite a left shoulder injury suffered the previous week when tripped by the Cowboys’ Flozell Adams(notes), although the argument could be made that it was a day the Giants defense didn’t really need him.
Tuck replacement Mathias Kiwanuka(notes) hit Byron Leftwich(notes) as he released a pass that was intercepted by Terrell Thomas(notes)—starting in place of injured cornerback Aaron Ross(notes)—in the first quarter.
Leftwich was replaced in the fourth quarter and going just 7-of-16 for 22 yards and one interception. Backup Josh Johnson(notes) led a promising drive, but the Bucs couldn’t avoid being shutout for the first time since losing the 2006 season opener 27-0 to Baltimore.
Tampa Bay had five first downs, matching the fewest in franchise history.
“We have no choice but to get better than this performance,” Morris said. “You get five first downs and you’re 0-for-9 on third down. You have 86 yards total offense. It was completely disastrous.”
Notes: Smith led the Giants with seven receptions for 63 yards. … The Bucs also were held to five first downs by Green Bay on Dec. 1, 1985 and San Diego on Sept. 19, 1976. … Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Bryant(notes) played after not practicing much of the week because of a sore knee. He had one catch for 6 yards.