With his right hand sporting a very thick mitten-like protective wrap, Pierre-Paul, the starter at right defensive end, participated in 46 of the Giants’ 63 defensive snaps (73 percent).
Head coach Tom Coughlin admitted Pierre-Paul probably played more than they had planned for him to do in his first game back; the 26-year-old defensive end was only too happy to contribute all he could.
“If it was up to me, I would’ve never come out,” he said.
While Pierre-Paul’s final stat line seemed paltry—two tackles and two quarterback hits—there were also several pressures, none any bigger than what he managed to generate in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
With the Bucs down 23-18 in the fourth quarter, Tampa got the ball with 7:18 left on its 20-yard line looking to take the lead.
Pierre-Paul and the Giants had other ideas, though.
On a 3rd-and-7, Pierre-Paul managed to get pressure on Winston, who somehow managed to connect with receiver Mike Evans on an 18-yard pass completion.
Aiming to do better, Pierre-Paul again went after Winston, this time on a 1st-and-10 from the Giants’ 49-yard line. Pierre-Paul’s pressure forced the rookie signal-caller to release the ball early, his deep pass intended for Charles Sims along the right sideline falling incomplete.
“Stop them,” Pierre-Paul said when asked what his mindset was in the fourth quarter. “When it comes down to the fourth quarter, you have to give it everything you got—you have to give it everything you got in the game, but it’s beat the man in front of you.”
The Giants did just that, shutting down quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs for the remainder of that drive and forcing a punt back to the Giants with 4:57 left on the clock.
New York went on to chew up 4:34 as kicker Josh Brown nailed a 44-yard field goal to ice the Giants win with 28 seconds remaining.
The Giants, who remain in first place in the division, will return home next week to host an undefeated New England Patriots team, a game in which Pierre-Paul is hoping to take advantage of even more opportunities.
“This is my first game back; I’m a little rusty in areas,” he said. “I’m going to go back and watch the film and see where I can get better at that and get ready for New England.”
“He needs to get his timing down,” Coughlin said. “Obviously he made a few good rushes coming up and under, and so I think he’s just going to get better and better.”
All quotes for this article via Giants.com. Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.
Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.