TAMPA, Fla.—Tom Brady stepped up in the pocket to scramble, high-stepped a tackler, slid hard for a first down, and got up pumping his arm and screaming.
That’s one way to erase the taste of losing.
The Super Bowl champion Buccaneers (7–3) snapped a two-game skid as Brady avoided dropping three in a row for the first time since 2002.
“We’re at a decent point but we can play a lot better than we’ve played,” Brady said. “Hoping our best football is ahead of us.”
Brady started 10 for 10 before misfiring on a deep ball to Mike Evans. On the next play, the 44-year-old scrambled 10 yards on third-and-4 to extend Tampa’s drive that ended with Ryan Succop kicking a 25-yard field goal that made it 10–3.
“Eleven-yard run. They don’t happen very often so I do remember how far they go,” Brady said, unaware it was officially ruled 10 yards.
Rob Gronkowski joked that he was open up the seam for a touchdown on the play.
“He could’ve just chucked it up but I saw him running and that was pretty dope,” Gronkowski said. “That was pretty impressive.”
Daniel Jones threw a TD pass to left tackle Andrew Thomas and the Giants (3–7) stayed close for one half before unraveling.
“We have to do a better job of putting our players in position to make plays,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “We have to make sure we sit down (Tuesday) as a coaching staff and understand how we’re going to play this game and give our players a chance to make plays.”
Down 17–10, the Giants drove to the Buccaneers 25 on the opening drive of the third quarter before Jones, under pressure from Devin White, threw incomplete on fourth-and-1 after rushing to the line to beat the play clock.
Brady then connected with Evans on a 5-yard TD pass to extend the lead to 24–10. Evans set a franchise record with his 72nd touchdown, passing Mike Alstott. He made sure to keep the ball after giving away Brady’s 600th TD pass to a fan earlier in the season.
“I’m very proud of that accomplishment. Hopefully, I can extend it really far,” Evans said. “I’m very proud. A-Train was an unbelievable player. I’m happy to be in the same sentence as him, let alone break his record. It’s a blessing.”
Jones threw an interception to 310-pound nose tackle Steve McLendon on New York’s next possession, but Tampa settled for Succop’s 40-yard field goal despite starting at the Giants 37. It was McLendon’s first career pick in 12 seasons.
Jones was picked by Mike Edwards in the fourth quarter and Succop hit a 30-yarder to cap the scoring.
Brady finished 30 of 46 with one interception. He improved to 6–1 against the Giants in the regular season but has lost two Super Bowls to New York, including one that prevented New England from a perfect season.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion leads the NFL with 29 TD passes and is second in yards passing with 3,172.
Gronkowski was back in Tampa’s lineup after missing five of the previous six games. Brady targeted his buddy eight times, connecting with the four-time All-Pro tight end on six passes for 71 yards.
Star running back Saquon Barkley returned for the Giants after missing four games with a sprained ankle but only had 25 yards rushing on six carries.
Jones was sacked twice by a ferocious defense that was missing defensive tackle Vita Vea due to a knee injury.
Brady came out firing, completing his first five passes, including a 13-yard TD toss to Chris Godwin.
The Giants tied it at 10–10 after Evans let a pass bounce off his hands and right to Adoree Jackson, who returned the pick 5 yards to the Buccaneers 10.
Jones lofted a 2-yard TD pass to Thomas, who had to jump as he was backing up to haul it in. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Thomas, wearing a brace on his right arm, was back after missing four games. He celebrated his first career reception with the rest of the offensive line circling around him.
Turn Off the Lights
The Giants have lost 10 straight games in prime time, including contests at Washington and Kansas City this season.
After using an offensive lineman as a receiver, the Giants had rookie receiver Kardarius Toney throw a deep pass to Darius Slayton that fell incomplete. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting was initially called for pass interference on the play, but the flag was picked up.
Giants: Toney suffered a quad bruise in the fourth quarter. … FS Logan Ryan was out because of COVID-19 protocols. … TE Kyle Rudolph left with an ankle injury in the third quarter.
Buccaneers: LG Ali Marpet left in the second quarter with an oblique strain.
Giants: Host the Philadelphia Eagles (5–6) on Sunday.
Buccaneers: Visit the Indianapolis Colts (6–5) on Sunday.
By Rob Maaddi