The Buccaneers had a tall task on Sunday to beat the New York Giants, and for most of the game they actually seemed like the better team. The Bucs started strong, but sputtered late in the game but managed to stay with the Giants the whole way through, something now one in the NFL thought would be possible.
It’s not just that the Bucs stayed in a game against the Giants, they stayed in a shootout against Eli Manning and the Giants. This wasn’t the Rah-Rah Raheem team from a year ago, this was an actual football team and they looked amazing on Sunday in ways that would make the team from last year blush.
The defense picked off three Eli Manning passes in the first half, with Eric Wright returning the third 60-yards before the end of the half to give the Bucs a 24-13 lead. Connor Barth added three more points to that lead but after that the Bucs imploded under the pressure in New York and they fumbled away the lead and eventually the game.
The secondary that looked so sharp in the first half really let the Bucs down in the end. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks combined for over 300 yards receiving and a lot of that had to do with Aqib Talib’s incapability to cover Nicks all day long.
The day started with two passes to Nicks that totalled 40 yards and the writing was on the wall at that point, just no one wanted to read it.
Talib was eaten alive by Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks, and he was picked on all day long. Talib couldn’t cover any elite receivers last year and he continued that trend today against Nicks. His biggest error came on a huge 40-plus yard pass with under 2:00 left in the game which set up a touchdown run by the Giants to give them a 41-34 lead.
It wasn’t just Talib who cracked on Sunday but because he’s the No. 1 corner and because he’s been touted as an elite corner this has yet another painfully epic failure on his part and you have to believe the writing is on the wall for Talib. The question now is how long to you allow Talib to poison the secondary with his subpar play.
You can defend Talib all you want on his potential but frankly that potential was absent on Sunday and he was the major reason the Bucs lost a big game.
The Bucs did stay with the Giants all game long though, so for this growing team that’s a win within itself. Obviously it won’t show up in the win column, but this was a thin win for the Bucs today simply for the fact they looked really good for most of the game. But looking good is okay if you’re a model, not if you’re a football team. Last year’s Bucs team looked good for four weeks and look how that turned out.
This loss needs to be built upon so the next time the Bucs are in a huge game, they come out a little differently in the end result.