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Keys to Victory

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Keys to Victory: How to outlast Tom Brady & Bucs


In back-to-back weeks, four NFL teams that entered the weekend with .500-or-below records defeated opponents that began the week with at least a share of first place in their divisions. The eight such wins, according to NFL Research, are the most in Weeks 9-10 of a single season since 1970.

This week, six of the eight division leaders are facing teams with .500-or-below records. The slate includes the 3-6 Giants against the 6-3 Buccaneers, who lead the NFC South despite losing their past two games.

Here are three ways the Giants can continue the league-wide trend and get a win on Monday Night Football:

Don't give Tom Brady extra opportunities

The Buccaneers do more than just force turnovers; they capitalize on them. They are tied with the Dolphins for the seventh-most takeaways (15) in the NFL, but like all good teams, they separate themselves from the pack with 51 points scored following takeaways, tied with the Packers and Titans for fourth in the league.

Last year's game against the Buccaneers was a turning point for Daniel Jones, who threw two second-half interceptions in a back-and-forth game. The Giants led by two heading into the fourth quarter but ended up losing by the same differential.

"I think Daniel has done a good job just progressing in his career throughout the course of time," Joe Judge said. "Obviously, you've got to learn from mistakes and as he's made mistakes or had plays he wants to have back, you can't go back in a time machine, so you've just got to go ahead and carry it forward and make sure that you don't repeat those mistakes. He's done a good job of that for us. I think when you look at last year, that was obviously a line that you can say before this game or after this game there were distinctively different results."

Jones has a lot of history with Tampa Bay in his young career. In the Giants' last visit to Raymond James Stadium in Week 3 of the 2019 season, Jones made his first NFL start, passing for 336 yards with two touchdowns for a 112.7 rating and adding two rushing touchdowns in a 32-31 win. Jones became the first rookie with at least 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a single game since the league merger in 1970.

Communicate, rally and tackle

It may sound counterintuitive to call Brady patient when his average time to throw is 2.50 seconds, the second-fastest in the league this season. But that's exactly what he is. He will take 5-yard gains to set up the downfield shots. Brady has a 128.9 passer rating on short passes (0-9 air yards), the highest by any player in any season recorded by Next Gen Stats since 2016. He has 17 touchdowns on short passes through nine games this season; no player in the NGS era has had more than 20 over an entire season.

It will be strength on strength in this area of the game. The Giants are tied for the league lead in interceptions and rank sixth in yards per attempt allowed on short passes.

"I think that's probably one of the biggest assets, one of the best characteristics about Tom, how quickly he gets the ball out, recognizing matchups, getting the ball to the skill players and getting the ball to the young people," said defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who like Judge was an assistant in New England during the Brady era. "He does a good job of that, so it's tough. They do a lot of good stuff with their scheme in terms of getting guys free and open, whether it's picks, rubs or just concepts whether they bunch them up or stack them up, forcing communication. Anytime you play man coverage and you're dealing with a team that is in condensed splits, it forces us to communicate."

All three phases

Brady affects all facets of the game for opponents, including special teams. Tampa Bay has the fourth-best average starting field position in the NFL (31.4 yards), while the Giants are 29th (26.3). From coverage units to converting third downs and getting off the field on defense, it will take all three phases on Monday night in Tampa.

"When you know you can pin a guy like that back there and to really take away a potential advantage that he would have, the stakes are a little higher," special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. "And you want to make sure, hey look, we want to get this ball down inside the 10. We want to make sure we tackle the ball inside the 20 and not let him get the ball out to the 35-yard line where they get two completions and they're in field goal position. It happens so fast, they've got a big play offense. He is who he is. You always want to make sure that the field position game is a crucial part of it."

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