AT A GLANCE: With a 38-35 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the New York Giants won consecutive games for the first time since Weeks 14 and 15 of the 2016 season. Big Blue, which defeated the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night, is 2-0 since the bye week after starting the season 1-7.
UP NEXT: The Giants travel to Philadelphia, where they have not won since 2013. The Eagles took the first leg of the season series with a 34-13 victory on a Thursday night at MetLife Stadium in Week 6. The Giants will also look to maintain their hold on the all-time series, which they lead by one game (85-84-2, including 2-2 in postseason) since their first meeting in 1933.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:
*The Giants scored a touchdown on their first possession for the third time this season with a six-yard pass from Eli Manning to running back Saquon Barkley, his third touchdown reception of his rookie season. It capped a six-play, 63-yard drive that included a 41-yard reception by Odell Beckham Jr. to set up a first-and-goal.
*Moving the ball at will on their first two drives, Barkley added another touchdown in the second quarter on a five-yard run. After he posted a career-high 20 carries on Monday night, the second overall pick topped it with 27 rushing attempts for 142 yards and two touchdowns, all personal bests. Last week, he joined Eric Dickerson as the only players since the merger with 100 scrimmage yards in eight of their first nine career games. Now Barkley has nine in his first 10. On Sunday, he became the first Giants rookie since Butch Woolfolk in 1982 with both a TD run and a TD catch in a single game. He now has 10 overall touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving).
*Manning, who completed his first 11 passes, had only one incompletion on 18 attempts for 231 yards and two touchdowns. His 155.8 passer rating was the second-highest of his career while completing passes to nine different players. Manning had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in 2009 vs. Oakland, but he attempted only 10 passes and was relieved at the end of the first half. He did get sacked four times on Sunday, including 1.5 by his old Super Bowl XLVI teammate Jason Pierre-Paul, who was traded in the offseason and now has 9.5 for his new team.
*Jamon Brown started his second consecutive game at right guard after the Giants acquired him off waivers heading into their bye week. In last week’s victory against the 49ers, the former Ram became the ninth different offensive lineman to start for the Giants this season.
*The Giants saw their 17-point lead in the fourth quarter diminished to three with 5:11 to play, but tight end Evan Engram sprung a key 54-yard catch-and-run to set up Barkley’s two-yard rushing touchdown, putting the Giants back up by 10 points with 3:52 left in the game.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE:
*After the Giants scored on the opening drive, the defense made a fourth-down stand on the Buccaneers’ ensuing possession. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started at quarterback for the seventh time instead of former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, marched Tampa Bay 68 yards down to the five-yard line, where the defense stonewalled a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-one. The Buccaneers entered Sunday with the No. 1 offense in both total yards and passing yards per game, but last week became the first team in NFL history to gain 500 yards but score only three points.
*James Bettcher challenged his defense to make two improvements this week: get off the field on third down and generate more pressure. Well, what about more turnovers? Mike Thomas proved he is more than a special teams ace. The veteran defensive back intercepted Fitzpatrick deep in Giants territory to keep the Buccaneers off the board just before halftime. It was his first interception since his first NFL game in 2013, when he sealed a victory for the Dolphins over Tom Brady and the Patriots. Linebacker Alec Ogletree got another off Fitzpatrick to start the second half, returning it 15 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead for his team. Safety Curtis Riley then got in on the action on the next drive for the third interception of the game, leading Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter to send Winston in the game at quarterback. Cornerback B.W. Webb sealed the victory with the fourth of the game for the defense with 13 seconds remaining after the Buccaneers had cut the deficit to three points. The Giants now six interceptions in the last two games after having four in the first eight. Tampa Bay entered with the most turnovers and worst differential in the league.
WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS:
*Former first-round pick Corey Coleman, whom the Giants acquired exactly a month ago, started the game with a 40-yard kickoff return, leading to the opening-drive touchdown. Coleman also had a 51-yarder in last week’s victory over the 49ers.
*Aldrick Rosas made his lone field goal attempt from 52 yards, one yard shy of his career high. He is now 20-for-21 on the season.
IN-GAME INJURY REPORT: NYG – DE Kerry Wynn (evaluated for concussion). TB – WR DeSean Jackson (thumb).
INACTIVES: NYG – QB Kyle Lauletta, DB Tony Lippett, S Kamrin Moore, C Evan Brown, WR Jawill Davis, DL RJ McIntosh, DT John Jenkins. TB – DE Vinny Curry (ankle), LB Lavonte David (knee), S Justin Evans (toe), RB Ronald Jones (hamstring), CB M.J. Stewart (foot), QB Ryan Griffin, OL Alex Cappa.
LINEUP CHANGES: NYG – None. TB – Isaiah Johnson for Evans at S, Riley Bullough for 54 David at WLB, Carl Nassib for Curry at DE.