The New York Giants don't do anything the easy way.
They had numerous opportunities to put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers away, but instead elected to let them hang around, keep the game close, and do a solid for alcohol sellers and cardiologists all over Giants' land.
The Giants quickly fell behind after Odell Beckham let the first play of the game bounce off his hands and into a defender's. The defense was stout, however, and limited the Bucs to a field goal.
But that wasn't the only turnover to impact the game. Not by a long shot.
The Giants would take the ball away from Tampa on three separate occasions, and each one impacted the game.
Fumble 1 - At the start of the second quarter, with the ball on the Tampa Bay 24 yard line, Doug Martin ran for just two yards up the middle. John Hankins made the stop, but at the same time he separated player from ball. It was a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who became the Giants' new starting middle linebacker after Jon Beason was placed on the IR. While that play ultimately resulted in a touchdown to put the Giants up 17-6, it also resulted in a torn pectoral muscle for John Hankins. We will know more later how bad this injury is, but this play could have a far-reaching impact that goes beyond a turnover that was converted into a touchdown.
Fumble 2 - With 12:45 on the clock in the third quarter. the Buccaneers again elected to run up the middle. And again they quickly regretted it.
Johnny On The Spot for the first fumble, this time Brinkley shot through the line of scrimmage, getting a hand on the ball as he tackled Charles Sims. He brought the ball carrier down, but not before the ball came loose. This time the Giants avoided an injury to a key player, and Trevin Wade came up with the ball. While the Giants were unable to score the touchdown, a failure that looked like it might haunt them, they did come away with a field goal to go up 20-9.
Fumble 3 - The last play of the game, the Buccaneers were in desperation mode after a penalty on the kick-off put them back on the 6 yard line. In their desperation the Bucs opted for the school-yard hook & ladder play. Jameis Winston threw to Charles Sims, Sims threw the ball to Mike Evans, Evans threw the ball back to ... Logan Mankins? Mankins made a valiant effort, but a 33-year-old offensive lineman is going to catch like a lineman who is in his 11th season. Something like this:
LeCharles Bentley (@OLineWorld65) November 9, 2015
This time Wade, who was Johnny On The Spot, on the second fumble, came up with it on this play and took care of the score himself.
Just throw it to 13
After a touchdown run by Winston got the Bucs to within two points of the Giants at 20-18, and a failed 2-point conversion kept them there, the Giants eventually came up with a field goal to make the score 23-18. The Giants' defense finally came through with a stop at mid-field. That stand saw Jason Pierre-Paul, Robert Ayers, and Damontre Moore all on the field at the same time. The Giants finally had a pass rush and the Bucs had to punt.
After getting the ball back, the Giants set out to burn the clock and put the game away. With 4:14 left in the game, and the Giants on their 24-yard line, New York was faced with a 3rd & 6 that they simply had to convert. In games past, games that the Giants lost, Eli Manning would go to a receiver not named "Odell Beckham". But this time, Eli saw that Beckham had a good match-up, and they went to take advantage of it. It was a low pass, Eli was erratic with the rain pouring down in Tampa, but Beckham came up with yet another spectacular catch. This one wasn't a leaping one-handed grab. Instead it featured Beckham using those strong hands to snatch the ball from an inch off the turf and pick up nine yards to keep the Giants' offense marching. Their drive ultimately got down to the 25-yard line, where it stalled, but Josh Brown drilled a 44-yard field goal to put the Giants up 26-18, and set up Trevin Wade's fumble recovery.
It won't make many lists of "Top Plays", but Beckham's catch, snatching the ball just off the turf and not allowing it to touch the ground, essentially put the game away for the Giants.
This isn't any one play, but this game was filled with some ugly drops. From the very first play receivers on both teams had issues holding on to the ball. However for one receiver in particular it was the worst good day of his young career.
The Giants had very few answers for Mike Evans, with the big receiver nabbing 8 receptions for 152 yards. Granted 68 of those yards came on a single catch and run in the first quarter, but the Giants still had issues covering him. However despite the big receiving day, his game could have been much bigger. Eigh receptions for 152 yards is a great day at the office. But that suddenly looks a bit worse when you realize that Evans had more drops than any receiver in the last 10 years. It may have been the rain, but a remarkable six passes hit Evans' hands on their way down to the ground. Evans was targeted 19 times.