Giants get cold reality check in dismal primetime loss to Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. — The bye week came and went and now the Giants might be saying goodbye to any semblance of relevant football for the duration of 2021.

They embarked on the second half of their season by getting outclassed in prime time Monday. If the Giants were a television show, they would have been canceled long before this. Their offense welcomed back Saquon Barkley but still was a dismal mess. Their defense was incapable of getting anywhere in the vicinity of Tom Brady, who has felt more pressure taking a nap.

Any encouraging vibes created after the Giants won two of three games were wiped out by a reality check slap in the face administered by the defending Super Bowl champs. There were no answers anywhere, as the Giants were soundly beaten 30-10 at Raymond James Stadium.

Despite getting Barkley back and having his top receivers, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, on the field and healthy, quarterback Daniel Jones was unable to generate much of anything. There was not one sustained touchdown drive, no verve, no consistent execution and, once again, not nearly enough points. Jones threw two second-half interceptions and looked nothing like the dynamic novice who as a rookie at this same venue two years ago led the Giants to a comeback victory. Jones (23 of 38, 167 yards) did not do much of anything.

Brady had not lost three consecutive games since 2002, his first year as a full-time starter, when the Patriots actually had a four-game losing streak. It was the only time in Brady’s 22-year career he lost three straight games. This was not going to happen again, at least not on this night, not against this opponent. Brady completed 30 of 46 passes for 307 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and he was not sacked.

Saquon Barkley and the Giants lost to the Buccaneers on Monday Night.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The Giants dropped to 3-7 and are now alone in last place in the NFC East, a basement residence they did not expect to inhabit 10 games into the season. That is where they reside, though, and face the surging Eagles (5-6) for the first time this season on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The glare of the spotlight does not show the Giants in a positive light. This was their 10th straight loss playing in prime time. Jones dropped to 0-8 when the entire nation was given the opportunity to see his team.

The Giants were within 17-10 at halftime only because a deflected Brady pass was intercepted by cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, setting the anemic offense up at the Bucs 5-yard line. Any notion that the Giants would make a game of it in the second half was quickly dashed.

The unraveling started immediately after halftime. The Giants got to the Bucs’ 25-yard line but a woeful fourth-and-1 play was a dud when Jones was pressured by linebacker Devin White and the pass hit nothing but grass. Brady then easily motored down the field on a 71-yard drive, cashing in when he hit Mike Evans for a 5-yard touchdown pass, with Evans with the greatest of ease posting up cornerback James Bradberry in the end zone.

The Bucs added to their 24-10 lead after Jones, backpedaling and panicking, threw a ghastly interception, with no receiver in the area, dumping the ball to defensive tackle Steve McLendon. That set the Bucs up on the Giants’ 37-yard line and they added a field goal to go ahead 27-10.

Brady has been around seemingly since the Jurassic Period and the opening drive of the night might have been the easiest of his career. He completed all five of his passes and no defender got near him, needing only eight plays to go 73 yards, finishing off with a wide receiver screen to Chris Godwin for a 13-yard touchdown, with Bradberry overrunning the play and Julian Love — subbing for usual starting safety Logan Ryan (Reserve-COVID-19 list) unable to lay a glove on the ball carrier.

Daniel Jones after one of his two interceptions.
Daniel Jones after one of his two interceptions.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

A promising opening drive for the Giants stalled and what you do not want to do against Brady — settle for field goals after marching into the red zone — was the end result.

The Bucs on their second series hogged the ball for 18 plays but the Giants’ defense — the best in the NFL in the red zone the previous three games — dropped eight players in coverage on third down, giving Brady nowhere to go with the ball. The ensuing Ryan Succop field goal made it 10-3.

A spark was needed to shake the Bucs out of their comfort zone and it came with 9:53 left in the second quarter. Brady rifled a pass to the left sideline to Evans, but the ball sailed through Evans’ hands, deflected off his shoulder and into the air, where cornerback Jackson was waiting for the gift interception. Jackson advanced the ball 10 yards to the Tampa 5-yard line. Two plays later, left tackle Andrew Thomas reported as an eligible receiver and the Giants actually threw it to him, with Thomas making a jumping grab in the end zone after Jones lobbed the ball to him under pressure from linebacker Lavonte David. It was 10-10 and the Giants were back in business.

Not for long.

The Bucs came right back, with Brady with all the time in the world finding Rob Gronkowski on a 35-yard pass play, leading to Ronald Jones’ 6-yard scoring run to make it 17-10.