By Curt Macysyn
If nothing else, the New York Giants (5-4) are a resilient group this year. Not only does this group have the ability to forget the tough losses that they have endured, but Big Blue can also adapt the the weekly line-up changes required because of multiple injuries. This week, the G-men welcomed back Jason Pierre-Paul, who came back from a severe hand injury to make an immediate impact.
The improving Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) tried in vain to get the Giants to blink, but New York held tough and maintained their first-place status with a 32-18 win in rainy Florida. Unlike last week, there were no gaudy individuals stats to speak of this week, The G-men did not record a sack or an interception, and the Trevin Wade’s fumble recovery for a touchdown came on the last play of the game.
The lack of glitz actually would be more attractive to head coach Tom Coughlin, whose squad now faces the undefeated New England Patriots at the Meadowlands on Sunday.
Eli Manning threw two first half touchdowns, but he also chucked a couple of interceptions that thankfully did not prove harmful. Beckham caught nine passes for 105 yards, but was held without a touchdown. Rueben Randle shook off his injured hamstring to catch five passes, including an eight-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. Perhaps unnoticed, Randle’s five catches were in five targets by Manning, which is often not the case with the mercurial receiver.
It was running back by full committee this week, with four of the running backs combining for 114 yards on the ground with Rashad Jennings leading the pack with 48 rushing yards. Andre Williams had seven runs for 30 yards (4.3 yards per carry) as he had a productive afternoon.
The rookie tight ends, Will Tye and Jerome Cunningam, had four catches on the afternoon, and Shane Vereen had four grabs from the backfield, including a four-yard touchdown.
The defense welcomed back Jason Pierre-Paul, the defensive end was effective in energizing the unit. The G-men lost defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins to a reported torn pectoral muscle, so JPP’s presence ended up being critical to the front four. Both Cullen Jenkins and Robert Ayers moved to the interior after Big Hank’s injury.
With Jon Beason being placed on the injured reserve list, Jasper Brinkley becomes a key player on the defensive unit. Brinkley led the Giants with seven tackles against the Buccaneers and also had an important fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Jonathan Casillas has also been thrust into a starting role, with the injury to J.T. Thomas, and he recorded six tackles on Sunday, including a touchdown saver on Mike Evans. Speaking of Evans, the defense was helped by his six dropped passes on the afternoon.
Special Teams: A
Josh Brown was perfect in four field goal attempts, including a 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Amazingly, Brad Wing punted only once. On his only kick, Wing launched a 64 yard boot. Kick coverage stifled Bobby Rainey, especially on his final return on the afternoon.
When matched against a squad like the Buccaneers, this coaching staff certainly can get the job done. Part of the strength revolves around their collective abilities to get the squad to focus what is ahead of them and not the previous week. Defensive coordinator has done wonders with his unit, and now they will likely have to withstand the loss of Johnathan Hankins for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Ben McAdoo utilized the running back committee effectively, and he actually coaxed some decent production from Andre Williams. Clearly the sum of the Giants is greater than their individual parts, and they have bought what Tom Coughlin is selling.
The Giants will not have long to savor this victory, with a grudge match against the New England Patriots next Sunday at the Meadowlands with a 5:25 p.m. start time.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.