Buccaneers 3

(2-5, 0-3 away)

Giants 17

(5-2, 2-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, October 29, 2006

Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 

1 2 3 4 T
TB 0 3 0 03
NYG 7 7 0 317

Top Performers

Passing: E. Manning (NYG) - 154 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: T. Barber (NYG) - 26 CAR, 68 YDS

Receiving: P. Burress (NYG) - 7 REC, 86 YDS, 1 TD

Short-handed Giants strike early, smother Bucs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- On a cold, blustery afternoon, the New York Giants displayed the depth of their defense.

Despite playing without three injured defensive starters and losing another early, the Giants held Tampa Bay to 174 total yards and set up a score with a turnover deep in Buccaneers' territory in a 17-3 victory Sunday.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
The Giants struggled to get into rhythm on offense until late in the game against a relentless Buccaneers defense. The Giants relied on a combination of Tiki Barber (right) and Brandon Jacobs to attack an undersized Buccaneers front seven. QB Eli Manning struggled, but made enough plays in the passing game to keep the Bucs off balance as the Giants again relied on their running game to set up the play-action pass.

The Giants' defense dominated the Buccaneers' offense. Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis continues to use a simple formula that focused on stopping the Buccaneers rushing attack while pressuring rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski in passing situations. Even though head coach Jon Gruden was more aggressive this week in his play selection, the Buccaneers' receivers had a lot of critical drops.

"You know what? I'm not surprised because the backups, the guys who came in, are like starters," Pro Bowl defense end Michael Strahan said after the Giants (5-2) won their fourth straight game. "They are players."

During the winning streak which started after a bye week, the defense has allowed 42 points, and hasn't given up a touchdown in the last two home games.

The Bucs (2-5) were 2-for-16 on third-down chances and 0-for-3 on fourth-down opportunities in seeing their two-game winning streak snapped. They also fumbled six times, losing one important one.

What made this performance so impressive was who the Giants were missing.

All-Pro defensive end Osi Umenyiora (hip), strongside linebacker LaVar Arrington (season-ending Achilles' injury) and starting cornerback Sam Madison (hamstring) were all out. Weakside linebacker Brandon Short went down early with a quadriceps injury.

Rookie Mathias Kiwanuka, veterans Carlos Emmons and R.W. McQuarters, and rookie Gerris Wilkinson replaced them, respectively, and coordinator Tim Lewis' group didn't miss a beat in the game played with winds gusting to more than 40 mph.

Kiwanuka, a first-round draft pick, had his first sack and six tackles. Wilkinson had three sacks, a pass defended and a forced fumble. Emmons had three tackles and McQuarters one.

"We're still hungry," said defensive tackle Fred Robbins, whose fumble recovery set up Brandon Jacobs' 1-yard, second-quarter touchdown run that gave New York a 14-0 lead.

"We know we've got a good team," Robbins said. "We knew we had a good team when we were 1-2. We just had to put the pieces together. We know there is still more work to be done, but we are getting where we want to be."

Elias Says
Bruce Gradkowski
Bruce Gradkowski's Bucs lost to the Giants 17-3, but he threw 48 passes without an interception. Gradkowski has thrown a total 155 passes with only one INT in his rookie season. The only other players in NFL history with just one interception among their first 150 passes were Tom Brady and Gradkowski's current backup, Tim Rattay.

• For more Elias Says, Click here.

Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress provided the offense for the early lead. They combined on a 7-yard, first-quarter touchdown pass and a 25-yard wind-blown catch that led to Jacobs' TD run.

Jay Feely added a 31-yard field goal with 3:43 to play.

Matt Bryant, who kicked a winning 62-yard field goal last weekend against Philadelphia, had a 43-yarder for the Bucs.

Tampa Bay's few other scoring chances were hurt by dropped passes by Joey Galloway on nice throws by Bruce Gradkowski, a late third-quarter fumble by receiver Michael Clayton on a fourth-down play, and a failure to get a first down on two cracks from the Giants 32 early in the fourth quarter while needing only a yard.

"Obviously, the weather was a factor," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "It was hard for both teams. It was hard pregame warmup, it was hard throughout the game. Not only was it hard to throw it, it was hard to catch it, it was hard to snap it, it was hard to pitch it. It was hard, period."

The conditions made the so-called "Barber Bowl," the possible final matchup between twins Ronde Barber of the Bucs and Tiki Barber of the Giants, seem almost insignificant.

The twins had their moments, but they played a secondary role to the wind and the Giants defense, which held Tampa Bay without a first down on their first five offensive possessions.

"If it's the last time we play, good for him because he got back in the win column," Ronde Barber said of Tiki, who's planning to retire after this season. "He's still down 3-2."

The Bucs' inability to move and Jeff Feagles' punting gave New York great field position, and the Giants cashed in on their second possession. Taking over at their own 47, the Giants went 53 yards in eight plays -- capped by Burress' left-handed, one-hand catch over Ronde Barber.

Robbins set up the second touchdown, recovering a muffed pitchout by Cadillac Williams at the Bucs 28.

On first down, a pump fake by Manning allowed Burress to get behind the Bucs secondary and make a 25-yard catch on a pass that got caught up in the wind. On a calm day, it would have been an easy touchdown.

"Anytime you can't run the ball in this league, the majority of the time you are going to lose," said Williams after the Bucs were limited to 40 yards rushing.

Tiki Barber finished with 68 yards on 26 carries. Manning was 16 of 31 for 154, and Burress had seven catches for 86 yards as New York held the ball for more than 35 minutes.

Gradkowski finished 20 of 48 for 139 yards.

Game notes

It was so windy that every time referee Jeff Triplette turned on his microphone it sounded as if he was standing next to a jet engine. ... Giants RB Derrick Ward was active for the first time and made the tackle on the opening kickoff. ... Strahan remained tied with Lawrence Taylor for the Giants' career record with 132½ sacks. ... The Giants honored their 1956 championship team at halftime. ... Linebacker Shelton Quarles led the Bucs with 13 tackles.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1016
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6368
Total Yards174251
Yards per play2.83.7
Total Drives1415
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-02-3
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

nygTD3:35Plaxico Burress, 7 yd pass from Eli Manning (Jay Feely kick is good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 53 yds, 4:53
nygTD9:03Brandon Jacobs, 1 yd run (Jay Feely kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 28 yds, 1:29
tbFG1:03Matt Bryant 43 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 34 yds, 5:04
nygFG3:49Jay Feely 31 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 12 plays, 54 yds, 7:37