TAMPA — A Bucs pass defense that showed improvement the first two games came back to earth Sunday.
They allowed Giants rookie Daniel Jones to throw for 336 yards passing in his first NFL start, including 213 during the second half of the Bucs’ 32-31 loss.
The Bucs had allowed just 235.5 yards passing per game coming in.
“Our back end probably had their worst game of the year,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “And it was a simple a plan as it could be.”
Star running back Saquon Barkley left with a high ankle sprain late in the first half and didn’t return. The Giants’ five biggest gains came through the air, and four occurred in the second half, highlighted by Evan Engram’s 75-yard catch on the first play of the half. Jones also completed pass plays of 46, 36 and 21 yards in the second half.
"We lost leverage, didn't line up properly a couple of times and gave them huge plays that never should have been made," Arians said. "We'll get it corrected."
Arians critical of punt return game
Bucs punt returner Bobo Wilson averaged just 1.8 yards a return on Sunday, and only one of Wilson’s five returns logged more than one yards. He entered the game averaging 5.3 yards per punt return. “We had opportunities for punt returns and we just didn’t do a good job of blocking their gunners,” Arians said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting more physical out there because we had opportunities to get the ball inside the 50 on punt returns and we just didn’t get it.”
The Bucs pinned the Giants at their 6-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but Wilson got no room to run after fielding the punt at the Bucs 45. Two Giants converged before he made a move upfield and he returned that punt just one yard.
Injured outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (neck injury) made a rare appearance Monday in the locker room but declined comment. He’s expected to be out until at least late October. “Just progressing right on time,” Arians said.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.