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Eli Manning throws for 2 TDs as Giants top Bucs

By
Greg Auman, The Sports Xchange
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) attempts a pass. UPI/Rich Kane
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) attempts a pass. UPI/Rich Kane | License Photo

TAMPA, Fla. -- Two Eli Manning two touchdown passes gave the New York Giants a sizeable lead Sunday, and several key defensive plays sealed a 32-18 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

Wide receiver Rueben Randle and running back Shane Vereen caught scoring passes, leading the Giants (5-4) to a 17-9 halftime lead.

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"That was a hard-fought football game, as we knew it was going to be," coach Tom Coughlin said. "I felt good about the defense coming in -- they did a nice job holding them to basically field goals."

The Bucs (3-5) had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but a two-point conversion failed. The Giants added a field goal with 28 seconds remaining, then scored a defensive touchdown on the game's final play when the Bucs attempted a lateral and New York cornerback Trevin Wade picked up the loose ball and went 5 yards to seal the outcome.

Manning finished 26-for-40 for 213 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

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Manning was intercepted on the first play of the game -- off the hands of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and to Bucs cornerback Sterling Moore, setting Tampa Bay up at the New York 13-yard line. The Bucs got only a short field goal, however. Three times in the first half, Tampa Bay reached the New York 10-yard line but couldn't get a touchdown.

"Red zone is huge," Bucs guard Logan Mankins said. "It's hurt us a lot this year, and it really caught up to us today. Seven points compared to three is so big, especially when you're down there that many times. What'd we kick, (four) field goals today? Just turn three of them into touchdowns. ... That was huge."

Two fumbles by Bucs running backs led to 10 Giants points. Doug Martin's fumble set up Manning's second touchdown, and Charles Sims' fumble in the third quarter led to a field goal and a 20-9 New York lead.

The Bucs pulled close in the fourth quarter as quarterback Jameis Winston scrambled 10 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Giants' lead to 20-18. The two-point conversion failed, however, as wide receiver Russell Shepard couldn't get both feet in on a high throw at the back of the end zone.

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The Giants answered with a 53-yard field goal from Josh Brown, extending the advantage to 23-18 with 7:18 left in the game.

The Bucs opted to punt with 5:05 left on fourth-and-10 from midfield, but their defense couldn't get a stop to get the ball back. The Giants went 9-for-15 on third downs, including a key catch by Beckham on the final drive to salt away the remaining minutes. Brown kicked a fourth field goal in the last minute.

"Very tough," Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said. "We put ourselves in that situation. We have to find a way to get three-and-out or take the ball away in that situation."

Winston completed 19 of 36 passes for 249 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

In a battle of two of the league's top second-year receivers, Tampa Bay's Mike Evans had a 68-yard catch in the first half and finished with eight receptions for 152 yards. Beckham caught nine passes for 105 yards. Neither scored a touchdown.

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul made his season debut, playing for the first time since severely injuring his right hand in a July 4 fireworks accident. He was credited with two tackles.

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"I think the players were excited to have him as a part of our team and have him active tonight," Coughlin said. "I think he made a couple of outstanding rushes, particularly at the end. ... That was critical at that time."

NOTES: Several key Giants players did not dress due to injuries, most notably CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral), TE Larry Donnell (neck) and WR Victor Cruz (calf). ... The Bucs played a sixth consecutive game without TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder). The Bucs are also without WR Vincent Jackson (knee), DE Jacquies Smith (ankle), S Major Wright (hamstring) and S D.J. Swearinger (toe) with lingering injuries. ... Tampa Bay started promising first-year player Howard Jones at defensive end in Smith's place. Jones had three sacks in his first three NFL games but none Sunday. ... Bucs DT Akeem Spence started in place of Clinton McDonald, who went on injured reserve this week due to a pectoral injury. ... The other Giants inactives were LB J.T. Thomas (ankle), CB Leon McFadden (groin), LB Uani 'Unga (neck) and OT Bobby Hart. ... The Bucs made No. 3 QB Ryan Griffin and newly signed DE Lawrence Sidbury inactive as well.

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