With defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul back on the field, the New York Giants clamped down when they needed to the most on Sunday in Tampa Bay.
The defense held No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers to mostly field goals, capitalizing on a game-ending fumble return -- the third recovery of the day -- for a touchdown that gave the team a 32-18 victory.
The Giants improved to 5-4 on the season and held onto their lead in the NFC East race. Before heading into their bye, they next host the undefeated and defending Super Bowl champion Patriots in Week 10.
With that, here's what experts and analysts around the NFL are saying about Big Blue:
"Good for the Giants to get a win against a Bucs team that's playing better. But zero sacks, 5.9 yards per rush allowed, zero interceptions. I'll give them time to adjust to having Jason Pierre-Paul back, but that defense has to be more impactful for the Giants to hang on to the lead in the NFC East."
"At 5-4, the Giants are the only NFC East team over .500 and remain in first place heading into next week's home game against the undefeated New England Patriots. With a tough December schedule that includes the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets looming after the Pats and the bye, this was a game the Giants absolutely needed to have."
"Jason Pierre-Paul's first game action of the year saw the Giants pass rusher tally a pair of tackles over a surprising 47 snaps (76 percent of New York's defensive downs). Wearing a thick, padded mitt over his surgically repaired hand, JPP looked to be in solid shape. He was flagged for an offsides penalty in the second quarter, but Pierre-Paul came closer and closer to Winston as the game edged along. He'll get his first sack of the year sooner than later."
"The Giants defense turned this game into a blowout by forcing three turnovers. All three came on forced fumbles that the Giants would end up turning into a total of 17 points. It was almost fitting that the game ended on a five-yard fumble return for a touchdown by New York's Trevin Wade."
"[Just] past the midpoint of the team's schedule, as the N.F.L.'s fall season lurches toward the drive for winter playoff berths, the Giants (5-4) have held their grasp on first place in the N.F.C. East. Their division may be feeble, but the Giants have, nonetheless, been in first place for a month."
Paul Schwartz, New York Post
"Two tackles. Two quarterback hits. No sacks. One relieved, and happy, Jason Pierre-Paul. It added up to a return that has the still-in-first-place Giants feeling as if the second half of this season could be the start of something big."
"On the biggest series, Pierre-Paul registered two quarterback hits and two pressures of Winston, chasing the former Heisman Trophy winner out of the pocket while forcing him into rushed and inaccurate throws. Pierre-Paul played 46 of the Giants' 63 total defensive plays, including penalties and a two-point conversion, for 73 percent participation, a staggering number considering the humid conditions inside Raymond James Stadium."
Ralph Vacchiano, Daily News
"As if there was any need for a reminder of how much the Giants needed JPP, how important he was to their defense, it came in that fourth quarter on the Bucs' final drive, when the game was on the line and the Giants absolutely needed a stop. The Bucs got the ball down only 23-18 with 7:18 remaining, facing a defense that had melted down in the fourth quarter so many times before. But not this time. Not with JPP rushing the passer and having his finest series of the game."