In a game like this, little analysis is needed. The numbers speak for themselves:
First Downs: 27-5, New York Giants; none in the first forty minutes for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Total Net Yards: 397-86, in favor of the Giants.
To put those first two categories into perspective, the Giants, on the opening drive alone, of their game in Tampa Bay on Sunday, just about matched the Buccaneers’ offensive output for the entire contest.
The Giants started the game with five first downs during a 12-play, 80-yard drive which resulted in running back Brandon Jacobs’ first touchdown of the season, on a 6-yard run, giving the Giants a quick 7-0 lead, 6:55 into the game.
Considering what little the New York defense would allow the rest of the day, it was pretty much game over at that point.
Still, here’s a further look at the Giants’ numbers dominance:
Total Plays: Giants 76, Buccaneers 36.
Time Of Possession: Giants 43:38, Buccaneers 16:22.
Third Down Efficiency: Giants 10-for-16, Buccaneers 0-for-9.
And, the most important numbers for New York: a nice, crisp, 24-0 road victory, pushing the Giants’ 2009 start to a perfect 3-0, marking the first time the Giants have started a season with three straight wins in consecutive years since the 1993 and 1994 seasons.
As difficult as the Giants’ grueling, last-second two-point victory was in Dallas last week, that’s how easy New York got by Tampa Bay a week later.
In sharp contrast to the Giants’ win over the Cowboys, this was utter dominance at Raymond James Stadium, summed up very simply by Bucs’ first-year head coach Raheem Morris, who admitted to AP reporter Fred Goodall, “They beat us down… “We were beat by a grown-man team, a team we want to be like one day. They came in here and took it to us. Out-manned us, out-gunned us… It wasn’t even close.”
The NFL’s youngest head coach was also well aware of the aforementioned statistical disparity between his team and the Giants, telling Goodall, “You get five first downs and you’re 0-for-9 on third down. You have 86 yards total offense. It was completely disastrous.”
Tampa Bay (0-3), which blew its shot at the playoffs last season with an 0-4 December collapse, lost for the seventh straight game.
What made the Giants’ defensive performance particularly impressive was that Big Blue, despite being depleted and limited with injuries to several key players, completely shut down and dominated a Tampa Bay offense that averaged a more than respectable 20.5 points and 401.5 yards per game over the first two weeks of the season.
The Giants held the Bucs to just 58 passing yards (the fewest since they gave up 53 yards through the air against Atlanta, on November 9, 2003) while posting their first shutout since a 36-0 rout of Washington at home, on October 30, 2005. New York also recorded their first game on the road without allowing a point since a 23-0 win at Philadelphia on November 20, 1983.
Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin was happy with his defensive unit’s effort, saying “I was pleased with their energy, the way that they played, the way that they focused, their purpose… the fact that they took the challenge and really wanted to go and prove against a team that rushed for 174 against Dallas that we could stop the run. I thought the approach was really good. The leadership was strong… the energy that they showed from snap to snap, I thought all that was good.”
Meanwhile, the Giants, who entered the game averaging a decent (but not great) 100 yards rushing per game, broke out with 226 yards on the ground, led by running backs Ahmad Bradshaw (104 yards on 14 carries) and Brandon Jacobs (26 rushes for 92 yards), each of whom continually broke initial first tackles to gain additional yardage.
“I thought Bradshaw did a nice job,” Coughlin said. “He got hit, spun, got himself north again. He was able to do that on a number of occasions. Brandon did a nice job on some of the runs of just taking the pile and moving it… a lot of times [there were] two, three, four guys that he was able to move.”
While Bradshaw, in a larger role this season, was complimenting Jacobs very well, Bucs’ running back Derrick Ward, who teamed with Jacobs to give the Giants a pair of 1,000-yard rushers last year, was held to just 2 yards on 5 carries against his former team, after leaving the Giants as a free agent in the offseason.
While the Giants’ ground attack keyed their offense, it was a combination of their rushing and an effective passing game led by Eli Manning (14 of 24 for 161 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) which helped the G-Men to three different twelve-play scoring drives, while controlling the ball for their highest time of possession since October 29, 2000, when they had the ball against Philadelphia for just three seconds longer (43:41) than they did on Sunday.
Leading the NFC East by a game over both Philadelphia and Dallas, the Giants will finish up the third and final game of their longest road trip of the season, next Sunday at 1pm EST, at Kansas City (0-3), which began a four-week stretch of playing the entire NFC East with a 34-14 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday.