Bucs-Giants: Grading Tampa Bay’s 38-35 loss

Jameis Winston rallied the Bucs after Fitzpatrick was benched in the third quarter.
The New York Giants' Olivier Vernon, top, tackles Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during the first half. [AP Photo/Julio Cortez]
The New York Giants' Olivier Vernon, top, tackles Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during the first half. [AP Photo/Julio Cortez]
Published November 18
Updated November 18

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. —Step right up and take a spin on the big quarterback wheel for the Bucs. Round and round it goes, where it stops … oh, forget it. Nobody knows and perhaps it doesn't matter.

Ryan Fitzpatrick had played the hero and was the zero Sunday, throwing three interceptions in the Bucs' 38-35 loss to the New York Giants.

Jameis Winston rallied the Bucs after Fitzpatrick was benched in the third quarter. He led them to touchdown drives on four straight possessions. But the defense does whatever it takes to lose the game and gave up Saquon Barkley's third touchdown of the game with 3:52 remaining to effectively put the game out of reach.

Lots of bad marks in this one, be warned.

Starting Fitzpatrick

It was the wrong one. It was wrong from the start. Fitzpatrick had five turnovers in the two games heading into Sunday's game. Not that Jameis Winston is much better. Heck, Winston's first drive in relief ended with him fumbling into the end zone and only a recovery by Mike Evans avoided that catastrophe. But Winston has a future, whether it's with this team or not. If it's even, Fitz could be leavin'.

How close was the quarterback call?

"Yeah, close,'' coach Dirk Koetter said. "I have been telling you all along Jameis' day was going to come back. That's water under the bridge right now.'' Grade: F.

‘50-50 balls’

Can't spell his last name without an F. He's better as a closer than a starter. Wins over New Orleans and Philadelphia seem like a lifetime ago. Fitzpatrick had three possessions in a row end in interceptions, the one a virtual moon ball to DeSean Jackson that nearly brought rain and was picked off in the end zone by safety Curtis Riley.

"I just threw it up,'' Fitzpatrick said. "I threw it up — he's either going to make a play or they were, and when you throw up 50-50 balls, fifty percent of the time they get them.''

Can't mention what the fans threw up after that one.

Fitzpatrick says he doesn't know what's going to happen when Koetter decides on a quarterback for Sunday's game against the 49ers. After eight interceptions and a lost fumble in less than three games, here's a spoiler alert. It's not Fitz. Grade: F.

Barber a cut above

Who said the Bucs can't run the football? Besides nearly everyone. Well, that didn't hold true Sunday. Running back Peyton Barber rushed 18 times for a career-high 106 yards and a touchdown. It included a 28-yard run.

"When Peyton has gotten his touches, his running style has showed up,'' coach Dirk Koetter said. "His yards after contact, pushing the pile, I think Peyton has had a real solid season for the amount of touches he's gotten.'' Grade: B.

Bueno Santos

Hey, it just seems fair since Bucs fans rap on the kicker so much and they change them like socks, there should be a shoutout to Cairo Santos. Making his debut for Tampa Bay, Santos made all five of his extra points Sunday. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a strong leg for kickoffs. Giants return man Corey Coleman brought the opening kickoff back 40 yards. Grade: B.

How about some help, defense?

We can go ahead and focus on the crummy turnovers. Why not? They cost the Bucs the game. Or did they? When Winston connected with Adam Humphries on an 8-yard TD pass with 5:11 left, the Bucs were within a field goal, trailing 31-28. But playing without Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and anyone else who can cover a tight end, the Bucs allowed tight end Evan Engram to get loose for a 54-yard seam pass to set up Barkley's third TD. Grade: F.

Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] Follow @NFLStroud

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