At the end of the day, the Giants finished the job in Tampa Bay.
That's all that matters when a team takes a division lead on the road in November. The offense converted nine third downs and controlled the clock for nearly 35 minutes. The defense applied pressure at the right times down the stretch and came up with three turnovers, including a fumble return for a touchdown as time expired. And the special teams converted clutch field goals throughout the afternoon to keep the Buccaneers at bay.
The three phases added up to a 32-18 victory for the Giants, who won for the fifth time in seven weeks.
"We always preach about finishing, and tonight we did," coach Tom Coughlin said after the game. "I give them credit. [Buccaneers coach] Lovie [Smith] has done a good job. They battled back. Their young quarterback played well. In the long run, we kind of hung in there and we got ourselves a much-needed win."
IT WAS OVER WHEN
Cornerback Trevin Wade scooped up a lateral on Tampa Bay's last-ditch effort and returned it five yards for a touchdown to seal the victory.
Twenty-eight seconds earlier, Josh Brown made his fourth field goal from 44 yards to give the Giants an eight-point lead.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End. The two-time Pro Bowl selection played in his first game since suffering serious hand injuries in a July 4 fireworks accident. He played extensively in the return, recording two solo tackles, as well as two of the team's nine quarterback hits on No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston.
"I just know I'm happy being out here doing what I love to do," Pierre-Paul said. "I basically got a second opportunity and that's basically it. I'm just helping my teammates win football games."
WHAT THE WIN MEANS FOR THE GIANTS
Entering the second half of the schedule, the Giants held onto their lead in the NFC East and improved to 5-4. That sets up a showdown this week with the undefeated and reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots in the Giants' last game before the bye. New England yesterday defeated Washington (3-5). Meanwhile, Philadelphia (4-4) handed Dallas (2-6) its sixth-straight loss in an overtime win on Sunday night.
"It was a good win," said quarterback Eli Manning, who broke Phil Simms' record with his 96th regular-season victory as the Giants' starting quarterback. "We needed this win. We knew it was going to be tough. They're a scrappy team."
WHAT THE LOSS MEANS FOR THE BUCCANEERS
After defeating Atlanta in an overtime thriller in Week 8, Tampa Bay dropped to 3-5 on Sunday with Winston, the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Florida State, at quarterback. Undefeated Carolina continues to lead in the NFC South and defeated Green Bay, 37-29, yesterday, while division rivals Atlanta (6-3) and New Orleans (4-5) lost.
"I don't think people from the outside can really see how much we really love each other and how hard we work and how bad we want to win and how bad our head coach and our coaches are just basically putting it on us to get over that hump," said Winston, whose Buccaneers play the Cowboys in Week 10. "And the more we focus on that brotherhood and the more we come together, we are going to get over that hump together. One person can't do it; one person can't make the change. Together, when you are together and you are making changes and you are fighting for your brother, that's how you win football games."
Gameday photo timeline from the Giants Week 9 matchup against the Bucs