The last time they ran off the MetLife Stadium field a winner was the 2017 finale. The Giants were 0-4 this season playing at home before they finally broke through Sunday, beating the Buccaneers 38-35.
“I was talking to the players about how thrilled I am to be able to do that,’’ coach Pat Shurmur said. “It’s too damn late in the year for that to be the first one here at home, but that’s the way it is. I’m just glad they were able to watch a victory.’’
Of all the difficulties wrapped inside the 1-7 start, losing at home to the Jaguars, Saints, Eagles and Redskins in the first half of the season weighed heavily on the Giants.
“This was especially good to get a win for the city,’’ tight end Evan Engram said. “It felt good, it allowed them to have fun and take pride in us and for them to enjoy being up and not having to catch up or not having those tough heartbreaks like we’ve had. The atmosphere was crazy, it was great, we got to keep building on that.’’
Eli Manning’s 94.4 completion percentage (17-of-18) is a Giants record in a game with at least 10 passing attempts. His passer rating of 155.8 is a career-high in a game in which he played all four quarters.
Michael Thomas correctly diagnosed an onside kick with 2:20 remaining but did not do what he is coached to do: Fall on the ball. He scooped it off the turf and returned it 4 yards.
“Obviously the rule is to get the ball and get down,’’ Thomas said. “But shoot, if they didn’t tackle me I was going to the crib. I’m glad I made that play and pretty much sealed the game.’’
Landon Collins got up slowly after getting hit on the head as Ryan Fitzpatrick dove in for a second-quarter touchdown. Collins went inside the blue tent on the sideline to be evaluated for a concussion and exited by slamming the side of the tent in anger and then knocking over a garbage can. He passed the protocol and returned to the field.
“I hit Fitz, I guess his knee hit me in the head,’’ Collins said. “They saw me shaking my head ’cause they ruled it a touchdown but I played the next play. They made me go inside the tent and then they made me come in [to the locker room]. And that’s what made me mad.’’
DL Kerry Wynn was not as fortunate as Collins. He was forced out early in the third quarter with a concussion.
LB Oliver Vernon was called for penalties on three consecutive second-quarter plays, for losses totaling 25 yards. He was hit with a roughing the passer penalty and then was flagged on back-to-back plays for neutral-zone infractions.
“We were kind of getting a jump on their snap count,’’ Vernon said. “We were just trying to shoot your shot and make plays. They ended up catching us on two in a row. The less penalties you have, you have a better outcome of winning, so that’s on me.’’