TAMPA — The Bucs defense had no takeaways and no sacks, but still escaped with a 25-23 win Sunday, thanks in part to rookie Kendell Beckwith and backup Adarius Glanton stepping into every-down LB roles in place of injured starters Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander.
"We wanted to do our jobs, to make sure there wasn't a dropoff from Kwon and Lavonte," said Beckwith, who played middle linebacker, relayed the defensive calls from the sidelines and tied for the team lead with nine tackles.
Glanton, normally limited to special-teams play, stepped up as an every-down linebacker and had six tackles, as well as a key third-down pass breakup on the Giants' second drive.
"We're expected to win, no matter who's in there," Glanton said. "We expect everybody to play well together, play well as a defense. The expectations were high, and we just tried to live up to them."
Last time the Bucs won against a team with a Manning at quarterback? In 1984, against Archie Manning's Vikings. They had gone 0-3 against Peyton and 0-5 against Eli until Sunday's win.
The Bucs' first-ever win came against Archie's Saints in 1977. Eli had a chance to be the only starting quarterback with a 6-0 record against Tampa Bay.
Coach Dirk Koetter preaches the importance of big play on offense, and five different Bucs players had plays of 30 yards or more Sunday. In the Bucs' first two games, there was only one in WR DeSean Jackson.
Against the Giants, the Bucs got 30 or more from TE O.J. Howard (58), WR Adam Humphries (38), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (36), TE Cameron Brate (35) and WR Mike Evans (31).
On the other end, the Bucs defense limited big plays — only one player had a run or catch longer than 21 yards, and that was Pro Bowl WR Odell Beckham, still held in check with 90 receiving yards on 15 targets.
Sundays' sellout crowd was announced as 63,916, the most for any Bucs home game since the Cowboys played here in 2015.
The Giants fans who attended were enough that Beckwith's job communicating the defense was hampered by crowd noise in his own stadium.
As the Bucs prepare for a quick turnaround to Thursday's home game against the Patriots, they'll get a boost with the return of Doug Martin, whose four-game suspension from last year ended with Sunday's game.
"Happy to have Doug back," QB Jameis Winston said. "I've been texting him after games … I'm going to be happy to see No. 22 running around. I'm happy we got this win for him so we can be on the up-and-up going into our next game. … He's going to be our running back."
Jacquizz Rodgers ran well filling in for Martin on Sunday, finishing with 83 yards on 16 carries, along with 25 yards on two catches.
This and that
P Bryan Anger had a strong game, with a net average of 49.8 yards, including a 62-yarder with no return, and a 53-yard punt that had Ryan Smith jump into the end zone and toss the ball out, allowing Josh Robinson to down it at the 3-yard line. … Rookie S Justin Evans, who had played primarily on special teams in his first two NFL games, was pressed into duty when Keith Tandy was injured, and came up with his first three tackles on defense. … Jackson had a quiet game with two catches for 20 yards on six targets. It was his fewest yards in a game since Oct. 2 of last season, with 5 in a win against Cleveland.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.