When a defense gives up 35 points and 510 total yards of offense, it’s probably going to have a few things to clean up before the next game.
But the Giants’ defense also had a few things to crow about after Sunday’s 38-35 victory over the Buccaneers at MetLife Stadium. Chief among those were four interceptions, including an entertaining pick-6 by linebacker Alec Ogletree.
With the Giants leading 14-7 in the third quarter, Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an ill-advised sidearm pass from deep in his own territory. The Giants’ Janoris Jenkins dived for the ball, got to it in front of intended receiver DeSean Jackson and juggled it. Jenkins ended up on the turf with the ball wriggling around his torso when Ogletree came in, scooped it off Jenkins’ chest and ran it back 15 yards for a touchdown.
“I forgot what coverage we were in, but I saw Janoris kind of undercut the route,” Ogletree said. “I told him he should’ve caught it the first time. It would’ve been his pick, but he kind of bobbled it, and I was running to the ball and was able to get my hands on it and kind of scoop it and get up. It was a good play and it scored a touchdown for us.”
Ogletree’s ninth career interception and fourth touchdown gave the Giants a 21-7 lead. The way the second half went, the home team needed every point it could get, no matter the source.
“It means a lot,” Ogletree said. “It was a good play for us at the time. We had a lot of good plays today. Not only my play, but B.W. [Webb] at the end, everybody made plays all around.
“Granted, we need to finish better defensively on certain parts of it, but I’m proud of the guys and the way we played today. I thought we fought really well. When you [force] turnovers, it brings a lot of energy to the team and helps keep everybody motivated and playing well.”
Webb’s interception of Jameis Winston’ final pass attempt of the game sealed the victory.
Winston replaced Fitzpatrick (three interceptions) in the third quarter with the Giants leading 24-7 and almost led the Bucs to the comeback victory. The former No. 1 overall pick finished 12-for-16 for 199 yards and two touchdowns and led four touchdown drives.
“Our job is not let them score,” Ogletree said. “It’s not that they did anything to trick us, but when Jameis came in, we didn’t execute as well. When you don’t do that, you continue to give up points and yards like that.”
Safety Michael Thomas, who had an interception of Fitzpatrick with 30 seconds left in the first half, recovered Tampa Bay’s late onside kick attempt. It was another highlight play for the Giants.
“That’s the frustrating part,” Thomas said. “We played a great game. We got our hands on the ball, which we wanted to do. They’re the number one passing team, so between the two quarterbacks, they put up some decent numbers. But each quarterback on their own, you feel like you did a good job, especially the starter. We just got to find a way to finish, that’s it.”