By Leo Haggerty


Tampa Bay held on to beat New York 25-23 Monday night at Met Life Stadium.  The Buccaneers improved to 6-2 and that keeps the Pewter Pirates atop of the National Football Conference South Division.  The Giants fell to 1-7 and that keeps the G-Men in the NFC East cellar.

The visitors dented the scoreboard first at 9:41 of the first quarter on the opening possession of the tilt.  K Ryan Succop split the uprights from 37 yards away.  That ended an 11-play drive that took 5:19 to go 57 yards and gave the Bucs a 3-0 advantage.

The Giants took the lead at 4:10 of the first period.  New York recovered a Ronald Jones II fumble and converted the short field into points.  QB Daniel Jones hit RB Dion Lewis with a seven yard pass.  It took New York 44 seconds to go seven yards in three plays.  K Graham Gano was good with the PAT and NY took the lead at 7-3.

New York increased its margin with 1:46 left in the second period.  RB Wayne Gallman powered into the end zone from two yards out.  This finished a 77 yard drive that took 10 plays and 3:13 of clock time.  Gano was true with the extra point and the home team went up 14-3.

The Bucs took the ensuing kick and closed the gap with seven ticks left before halftime.  It took eight plays to traverse 53 yards in 1:39 finishing with another Succop field goal.  This boot was from 40 yards cutting the Giants margin to 14-6.

After halftime, Tampa Bay got on the board again at the 10:00 mark of the third quarter.  Again, it was Succop providing the points with a 43 yard kick.  That drive took 10 plays to go 34 yards in 4:31 and trimmed the New York lead to 14-9.

The Pewter Pirates took the lead with 6 minutes left in the third period.  QB Tom Brady found his favorite target, TE Rob Gronkowski, for a three yard score.  This drive consumed 2:36 to go 53 yards in five plays. TB went for the two-point conversion but was unsuccessful keeping the score at 15-14.

The G-Men finished off the third period scoring with only 15 ticks left.  Gano hit a 33 yard field goal that ended a 10 play drive that went 76 yards in 5:45.  That put New York back on top 17-15.

Tampa Bay retook the lead with 9:02 left in the fourth period.  Brady found WR Mike Evans with an eight-yard strike for the score.  The drive took 3:04 to traverse 67 yards in six plays.  Succup added the PAT and the Bucs went up 22-17.

The Buccaneers extended the advantage at the 3:41 mark of the final period.  Succop converted his fourth three-pointer of the contest with this one coming from 38 yards away.  That finished off an eight-play drive that went 32 yards eating up 3:16 of game time giving the Bucs a 25-17 lead.

The Giants were far from through and scored with 28 seconds left in regulation.  On their next possession, New York took 3:13 to go 75 yards in 13 plays.  Jones hit WR Golden Tate with a 19 yard laser to pull the G-Men within two at 25-23.

New York’s attempt to put the contest into overtime was unsuccessful.  The pass from Jones to Lewis for the tie was incomplete and the Pewter Pirates escaped with a hard fought victory.

The Buccaneers now prepare for a prime time showdown with the New Orleans Saints Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium.  At stake is the top spot in the NFC South.

Look for Senior Writer Rob Kriete’s Buc Up column on Saturday with his “quick hitting” facts as well as his prognostication on the outcome.  Then we’ll meet you around the TV Sunday night to see how this contest unfolds.  Enjoy.