The score after three quarters: 27-16, Tampa Bay.
For the entire first half, Manning was awful. Whenever it seemed he was on his way to driving the Giants down the field, he would either throw an interception, or he watched the football pop out of the hands of his tight end and wide receivers.
Bigger mistakes came in the second quarter. On a third down, Manning was looking to dump the pass off the Victor Cruz to pick up a first down, but he threw it right into the hands of Brandon McDonald who brought it back forty yards. That set up a Doug Martin touchdown run, giving the Bucs a 17-6 lead.
The worst came on an interception to former Raven Eric Wright, who brought it back 60-yards for a touchdown; thus endeth the first half.
You could hear the catcalls for the head of Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. The Giants were staring at an 0-2 start, an abyss lined with unspeakable misfortune. The same Giants fans who were so fast to fall in love with their team last December, were about to break out into their typical, cynical selves all over again.
Then, came the fourth quarter where the Giants scored 25 points to the Buccaneers 7, resulting in a
final score of the Giants 41, the Buccaneers 34.
Just like that, the Giants had turned around an impending disaster into one of their finest moments. Who knew?
The Giants come-from-behind victory began inconspicuously as the Giants pushed the ball deep into Tampa Bay territory; however, once in the red zone, the Giants stalled on two incompletions by Eli Manning, including one where he missed a wide open Victor Cruz in the end zone; the drive ended with New York's fourth field goal of the day to cut the Bucs lead to eight, 27-19.
Even though they were down eight, it felt like the game was going to be a loser. The Giants had done nothing inside the red zone all day and watched mistakes propel the young Buccaneers to a large lead.
Then, everything changed. The Giants defense, which had played a lot better in the second half, forced Tampa Bay to punt after Josh Freeman's pass to Mike Williams fell short of the first down marker.
With the football back, Manning went back to work; he found a wide open Cruz streaking down the left sideline and hit him in stride at the forty. Cruz raced to the end zone for the game-changing touchdown. Suddenly, an afternoon that seemed lost, turned 180 degrees on an 80 yard touchdown pass. The Giants capped off the comeback when Andre Brown plunged into the end zone for the two-point conversion, tying the game at 27.
Metlife Stadium went totally nuts. The Giants D forced a Tampa Bay three-and-out, setting the stage for another dramatic Manning drive.
Manning hit Martellus Bennett for 14 yards on first down. He connected with Hakeem Nicks for 20 yards. Nicks had a monster afternoon. He hauled in 10 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. Finally, Manning went to Bennett in the middle of the end zone for a 33-yard score, giving Big Blue a 34-27 lead.
However, the Buccaneers would not go away. Josh Freeman was finding guys wide open in the middle of the field like he had earlier in the contest. He hit former Colts tight end Dallas Clark three times for 36 yards, spotting the ball at the Giants 41. Finally, Freeman launched one down the ballpark, landing the football in the hands of Williams for the tying touchdown.
Only problem for Tampa Bay, they left too much time on the clock for Eli. With 1:58 to go, Manning calmly led the Giants downfield for the winning score. He hit Ramseus Barden for 24 yards; then he hit a steaking Nicks for 50 yards to move to the Tampa Bay 11. Finally, Brown plowed through the line for the touchdown, giving the Giants a 41-34 lead.
There was still one more pass for Freeman, but his bomb down the middle of the field was picked off by Michael Boley to end it.