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Tampa Bay Buccaneers blow 18-point lead, fall to New York Giants 32-31

Giants 32, Bucs 31: Tampa Bay was done in by another rookie quarterback.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan Josh Cranor, 35, of Lakeland and his son Jake, 7, react after Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay (9) missed a 34 yard field goal in the final seconds against the New York Giants Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 in Tampa. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 32-31. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published Sep. 22
Updated Sep. 22

TAMPA — Bucs rookie kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal as time expired and the Tampa Bay blew an 18-point halftime lead Sunday to fall to the previously winless New York Giants, 32-31.

Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third, a 7-yarder with 1:16 to play, in his NFL debut. The Bucs are 3-13 against opposing rookie quarterbacks since 2011.

Gay’s fourth field goal of the day, a 23-yarder with six minutes to play, gave the Bucs a 31-25 lead and Tampa Bay’s first points of the second half.

The Bucs’ 18-point halftime lead had shrunk to three points, and an awful throw by Jameis Winston led to an interception that gave the Giants a chance to take the lead.

But Bucs defensive end Shaq Barrett continued his assault, swatting the ball out of Jones’ hands, causing a fumble the Bucs recovered before Gay’s field goal. Barrett already had three quarterback sacks before causing the turnover.

Jones’ furious second-half rally

Jones threw touchdown passes on the first two drives of the second half Sunday to cut the Bucs’ lead to 28-25.

Jones completed 17 of his first 25 passes for 265 yards in his NFL debut after replacing Eli Manning as the Giants starter this week. His 7-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard at 8:14 in the third quarter continued the Giants’ rally from a 18-point halftime deficit.

Engram’s long TD gets the Giants started

Giants tight end Evan Engram’s 75-yard touchdown reception on the first play of the second half interrupted the Mike Evans show.

Engram’s sprint down the east sideline with a pass from rookie quarterback Daniel Jones breathed life into the Giants, who saw Evans catch a career-high three touchdown passes — all in the first half.

Engram’s score also was a shot in the arm for a Giants offense that lost star running back Saquon Barkley for the game to an ankle injury.

Mike Evans is back, with a vengeance

He never really went anywhere, but Mike Evans had a quiet first two weeks of the 2019 season.

He made up for that in the first half Sunday.

Evans caught a career-high three touchdown passes from Jameis Winston to give the Bucs a 28-10 halftime lead over the New York Giants.

Evans, who combined for only six catches against the 49ers and Panthers, had six receptions for 131 yards and the three scores in two quarters.

Seven times Evans had caught at least two touchdown passes in a game, but never three until his 20-yard scoring reception Sunday 1:26 before halftime.

Matt Gay’s three field goals allay a few fears

Bucs rookie kicker Matt Gay had as many field goals as Evans had touchdowns at halftime, hitting a 52-yard as time expired. Gay also nailed 47 and 27-yarders. The half, however, was a bit harrowing.

Gay missed his first point-after try and had the second blocked. You may have heard about the Bucs’ problems with kickers, which they attempted to remedy by drafting Gay in the fifth round of the NFL draft in April.

But a Winston-to-Evans connection, this one for 55 yards, set up Gay’s first field goal.

Daniel Jones’ hot start

Jones, the New York Giants rookie quarterback engineered scoring drives on the first two possessions of his first start to pull the Giants to within 12-10 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the 9:58 mark of the second quarter.

Jones, a former Duke star who replaced Eli Manning this week, capped a 75-yard with a 7-yard touchdown run. Jones is 9-of-13 passing for 96 yards. The Bucs are 3-12 against rookie QBs since 2011.

Evans’ hot start

He had four catches and two touchdowns on the Bucs’ first two drives. Evans’ TD receptions of 21 and 3 yards from Jameis Winston boosted the Bucs to a 12-3 lead after one quarter.

Winston was 7-of-10 passing for 121 yards and the two TDs, completing passes to five Bucs receivers.

Evans beat Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins for the 21-yard touchdown reception on the Bucs first drive.

Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones’ first drive of his NFL career produced points. Jones was 4-of-5 passing for 53 yards to set up Aldrick Rosas’ 36-yard field goal.

This story will be updated.

Contact Mike Sherman at Follow @mikesherman


  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians walks on the field before Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers in London. ALASTAIR GRANT  |  AP
    And that’s especially true for turnover-prone Jameis Winston, who will remain the starter when Tampa Bay next takes the field Oct. 27 vs. the Titans.
  2. Since he entered the NFL in 2015, Jameis Winston has been responsible for a league-high 87 giveaways, including six Sunday. JEFF HAYNES  |  Associated Press
    Sunday was a tough day for the players taken at the top of the 2015 NFL draft. The Titans at least are realizing what the Bucs are denying: They have a quarterback problem.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) makes a touchdown catch against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. ALASTAIR GRANT  |  AP
    An ugly loss leaves a sour taste, and several players would like to get back on the field immediately to right the ship.
  4. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates his touchdown against the Chiefs during the second half of the game in Kansas City. ED ZURGA  |  AP
    Road To Miami: Quarterback play continues to soar, for some teams - allowing us to realize who’s coming
  5. Pat and Richard McBride of Leicester have been Bucs fans for 34 years. They've suffered through some bad Tampa Bay seasons but remain loyalty, unlike fans of the other team owned by the Glazer Family, Manchester United. Eduardo A. Encina/Tampa Bay Times
    #GlazersOut has become a popular slogan and hashtag as the team battles on-field woes and reported financial issues. But “Manchester U. fans are good at one thing and that’s complaining,” said one...
  6. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota looks on from the sideline during the second half of a loss to the Broncos, during which he is benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill. DAVID ZALUBOWSKI  |  AP
    His status for an Oct. 27 game against the Bucs isn’t clear after he is benched against the Broncos.
  7. Former Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) gestures toward the Tampa Bay bench during the second quarter of Carolina's 37-26 victory over the Buccaneers Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. TIM IRELAND  |  AP
    Tampa Bay was without two starters on the right side of its offensive line. Did McCoy and Co. exploit that weakness or simply win one-on-one battles?
  8. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) scores on a second quarter touchdown pass, leaving Devin White and a host of other Bucs in his wake. TIM IRELAND  |  AP
    Bucs journal: In his first game since Week 2, White gets a reminder about the mental aspects of the game
  9. The Bucs' Jameis Winston threw five interceptions and lost a fumble against the Panthers on Sunday. It's never good when a quarterback's turnover total is twice his jersey number. TIM IRELAND  |  Associated Press
    After suffering a 37-26 beatdown, the team should extend its stay in London, maybe indefinitely. | Thomas Bassinger
  10. Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) meet at midfield after playing in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland) TIM IRELAND  |  AP
    That’s how Bruce Arians tried to explain Winston’s six-turnover performance in London Sunday.