This game was tough to watch, and not because losing by two touchdowns is humiliating.
This game was like the other tough losses this season, because the Bucs had opportunities to take this game from the Giants, but simply failed to capitalize on their opportunities.
As is frequently the case in the NFL, the game came down to a handful of key plays.
1. Early in the game, with the Bucs trailing 7-0 and fresh off a defensive stop of the Giants on fourth down, Carnell Williams fails to receive an accurate toss on a toss-sweep. Giants recover, and two plays later take a 13-0 lead (14-0 after the PAT).
Still in the first half, Joey Galloway allows a second deep pass from Bruce Gradkowski to bounce off his hands.
Also in the first half, wideout Michael Clayton allows a pass to bounce off his hands in the end zone. The Bucs settle for a field goal on the drive.
Third quarter, Bucs trail 14-0. Driving into Giant territory, the Bucs go for the first down on fourth and about 8 yards to go (going from memory). Michael Clayton catches a quick slant over the middle, reaches first down yardage, and then fumbles the ball after being hit solidly by two Giant defenders. The ball gets knocked around a bit, and finally the Bucs recover back behind the first down marker. By rule, on fourth down only the player fumbling the ball can recover. The Bucs get no first down, and the Giants take over first-and-ten.
A closer game in the fourth plays out differently than one with a 14 point differential--and that's the game I'd rather have watched.
The Bucs played pretty solid defense, holding the Giants under 300 total yards, but the offense repeatedly failed to make plays when given the opportunity against a stout NY Giants defense.
I think the Bucs are a good team, but they're doing the things that bad teams do. Dropping the key passes is exactly that type of thing. Yes, the weather made it tough to catch the ball, but both teams shared the weather.
This game dealt a serious blow to the Bucs already reed-thin playoff hopes.
I need to see some accurate passing from Gradkowski next Sunday against the Saints. He's gone three straight weeks with a rotten passing percentage.