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.
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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 email@example.com. Follow @mikesherman