Game 7: Bucs at Giants
Track today's game with us.
Read and react.
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First, some notable items in today's St. Petersburg Times:
- Are there two other guys who have the world on a string like Ronde and Tiki Barber? Joanne Korth documented the twins' many appearances together in New York, but come game time Ronde says Tiki is "just No. 21 in blue." (2003 Times photo; click to enlarge.)
- Columnists John Romano and Gary Shelton discussed the Barbers' Hall of Fame credentials. Gary said: "Think of the money the Hall could save by sculpting the same bust twice."
- Blue Adams told Stephen F. Holder that his German shepherd can go into the refrigerator and fetch his Gatorade. The dog also can tear a hole in your throat.
So, the Bucs face another high-octane offense. The league's leading running back (Tiki), a Manning at quarterback (Eli), but what concerns me are the defensive ends.
Michael Strahan (click to enlarge AP photo) can break a tie with Lawrence Taylor for most sacks in team history. That said, his opposite end, Osi Umenyiora, has more sacks this year (five to Strahan's three). Umenyiora, something less than a household name, is No. 72 and was a Pro Bowler last year.
They represent a huge challenge for Bucs tackles Jeremy Trueblood and Anthony Davis, and whatever help the Bucs provide. Here's hoping Umenyiora's hip injury limits his playing time. Typing his name is a bear.
Let's watch some football.
- Well, winds of 25-35 mph at Giants Stadium. which likely means a heavy dose of Tiki and Cadillac Williams. Punters and placekickers, beware. They just showed Matt Bryant practicing field goals. The football went straight for 20 yards, then boomeranged right. Look for a long return or two.
- Our announcers are Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan.
- Good news. This may be the last time I'm typing Umenyiora, who isn't starting.
- Three-and-out for Bucs. Low, short punt in the wind. Giants ball near midfield.
- Manning's one completion in four tries is a bullet for 11 yards. The other three passes sail. So, what's the wise coverage strategy? Tight and take away the short ball?
- Jeff Feagles 1, Josh Bidwell 0. Giants kill punt at Bucs 5.
- Strahan, who is playing now at 252 pounds, blows by Trueblood on inside rush. Bucs getting no push on running plays.
- Bidwell nukes punt 54 yards, but Giants again near midfield.
- Plaxico Burress has come clean three times, twice for first downs.
- %#[email protected]%!! Bucs lineman whiffs on a sack. Manning escapes and throws for another first down.
- Seems every Buc involved in tackling Tiki rubs him on the head after the play. Might Gruden say something if the score heads south?
- When the Bucs offense does something other than punt, you'll be the first to know.
- Bruce Gradkowski sacked but fumble bounces back to him. Here comes . . . drum roll . . . the punter.
- Simeon Rice swats third-down pass, but Feagles pins Bucs again. Bucs possessions have started at 24, 5, 20, 21 and now the 4. Giants have started at 43, 47, Tampa Bay 48, and 46.
- And now the Bucs' 41 after a fifth possession without a first down.
- Jeremy Shockey's fourth-down drop ends drive in Bucs' end of field.
Giants 14, Bucs 0. Cadillac fumbles a pitchout. Another Burress catch. Brandon Jacobs touchdown.
- First down, Bucs!
- Two good-looking long balls by Gradkowski. Joey Galloway drops both.
- Gift from Giants: Offside on Bucs punt. First down near midfield. Bucs need to cash in.
- Hey, a big gainer to Galloway, but Anthony Becht is called for pass interference. Yeesh.
- Michael Clayton's first mention is bad news. He's unable to haul in Gradkowski's floater in the end zone.
Giants 14, Bucs 3. Wow. Bryant pierces the wind from from 43 yards.
Some numbers to digest, then regurgitate:
- Gradkowski, 4-of-15, 37 yards.
- Cadillac, 5 carries, 4 yards.
- Burress, 4 catches, 56 yards, touchdown.
- Bucs offense: 72 yards, four first downs.
- Jermaine Phillips misses Tiki in the backfield, then Ronde misses little brother on the edge. Big gain.
- With 18 yards, Gradkowski is the Bucs' leading rusher. He's also 8-for-26 passing for 73 yards. Ugh.
- Ellis Wyms gets his fourth sack in three games. Gritty return by Ike Hilliard into Giants' end of field.
- On 3rd-and-5, Gradkowski quickly takes check-down to tight for no gain. On fourth down, complete to Clayton for first-down yardage. But Clayton's fumble bounces backward. Gradkowski's recovery is well short of first down.
- Defense is getting pressure on Manning. Tiki averaging just over 3 yards a rush. (Of course, Cadillac has no carries in the second half and still 4 yards gained.)
- Hard to watch Derrick Brooks missing tackle on Tiki catch. Barrett Ruud now playing for injured Shelton Quarles.
- Just like that, Cadillac for 16.
- Becht for a first down and-- didn't you see it coming? a fumble -- but Galloway recovers. Got a drive going here.
- On 3rd-and-short, Cadillac is stuffed. On 4th-and-1, with Alstott in the backfield, Gruden elects play-action pass. Ugly. Giants ball.
- Nice stat on television: on passes longer than 10 yards, Gradkowski is 0-for-11.
- As a friend would say, time for a turnover from the Bucs defense.
- Poor Ronde. On 3rd-and-short, Brandon Jacobs (6-4, 264 pounds) steamrolls Barber for a first down. Jacobs then plows two Bucs on the next play but is flagged for taunting.
- Jacobs. Burress. They're giants, right?
Giants 17, Bucs 3. Smashmouth, clock-eating, clinching drive.
- Two wins, five losses and the schedule just gets uglier.