3 Takeaways from Buccaneers' Week 8 Win
The Bucs came out flat on offense in the first half, but they rectified those issues in the second half with 19 points to claim a 25-23 victory.
With Chris Godwin out, the veteran quarterback called on Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson and Jaydon Mickens on a few occasions when greater attention was paid to his more notable targets.
Defensively, the Bucs improved in the second half with the concession of nine points, but they were a two-point conversion from allowing overtime.
The entire team needs to be sharper in the future, starting with the Week 9 clash against the New Orleans Saints that could play a role in determining the NFC South champion.
Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski Stepped Up in Critical Moments
Tampa Bay's first two scoring drives of the second half were finished off by its two most experienced targets.
Gronkowski remained focused on a tipped ball and brought in a three-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Evans made a fantastic catch in the right corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter to give the Bucs the lead for good.
Tampa Bay has come to expect those types of plays from the veteran duo, and their concentration on both plays led to two of the most important scores of the game.
Gronkowski came alive in the second half and finished with catches on all four targets and 41 receiving yards, while Evans led the team with five receptions and 55 yards.
Both were also involved on the final scoring drive, which resulted in a Ryan Succop field goal. Gronkowski caught an 18-yard pass, and Evans drew a pass interference penalty near the right sideline.
Brady may have found a way to win if Evans and Gronkowski were ineffective, but the duo make life much easier on the 43-year-old signal-caller when Godwin is not in the lineup.
Tom Brady Utilized Wide Receiver Depth Well
Brady connected with eight different players through the air on Monday.
Of course, Evans and Gronkowski will get most of the credit for their touchdown catches, but the players beneath them on the depth chart were critical in extending drives.
Mickens, Miller and Johnson combined for 10 catches and 106 receiving yards off 16 targets. Mickens and Miller were the two most targeted Tampa Bay wide receivers.
Brady has not been shy to spread the ball around, with eight players on the Bucs roster having 100 receiving yards. Miller leads Evans by 23 for the top total.
The widespread distribution helped the Bucs move the ball down the field at MetLife Stadium, which could be an important factor even when Godwin is healthy and Antonio Brown makes his debut.
Mickens, Miller and Johnson could be vital across the middle and as open targets in the red zone if most of the defensive attention goes to the bigger names.
By building up their confidence now, Brady should have no problem calling on them later in the season in more critical moments.
Tampa Bay Must Be Sharper from the Start
Tampa Bay's sluggish first half allowed the Giants to take an eight-point advantage into halftime.
The offense produced a pair of field-goal drives, but in between those marches down the field, they weren't effective enough against one of the worst teams in the NFL.
A fumble by Ronald Jones II and two drives that did not go more than 35 yards and resulted in punts came in between the pair of field-goal drives.
Defensively, the Bucs could not get off the field, as the Giants produced three first-half drives of eight plays or more.
New York's last two series of the opening half lasted a combined 22 plays and took nine minutes and 40 seconds off the clock.
In the second half, the Bucs produced a pair of interceptions and punts and were not gashed until the final drive of the contest, which resulted in a Golden Tate touchdown catch.
If Tampa Bay had packed more punch in the first half, it would not have needed a poor throw by Daniel Jones on a two-point conversion to confirm its victory.
With New Orleans, the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City ahead on the schedule before the Week 13 bye, the Bucs need to learn from Monday's first half and make sure they do not suffer another poor first 30 minutes. If they do, they could be punished for their sluggishness.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.