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Giants aim to maintain offensive production

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After weeks of waiting, weeks of talking about how explosive the offense could be, on Sunday the New York Giants put on a performance for the ages, with quarterback Eli Manning completing 30 of 41 pass attempts for 350 yards and six touchdown passes – all that in a 52-49 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

For the Giants and Manning, that game’s outcome is in the rearview mirror, their focus being on their upcoming trip to Tampa to face an upstart Bucs team that has won two of its last three games by seven points or less, including a surprising upset of the Atlanta Falcons.

However, the Giants are hoping that, in addition to the score favoring them this time, the production they’ve shown themselves capable of having continues as well.

Count quarterback Eli Manning, the engineer of last week’s plethora of yards and points, as among the optimistic ones who think that type of showing can repeat itself this week against a Bucs defense ranked 15th in the NFL in average yards per game allowed (352.1) and 14th in average passing yards per game allowed (244.6) – both higher rankings and better statistics than what they faced against the Saints, who came into last week’s game ranked as the league’s 30th overall defense.

“I think it’s just comes with practice,” Manning said of the key to keeping up the production. “We have to have a great week of practice and make sure we’re getting a lot of reps on the plays that we’re running, the new plays, the new things, everybody has a great feel and understanding of how we’re going to block things up, what our checks might be, and so we’re playing fast.

“We’re playing fast on Sunday and the plays come in, they know exactly where they’re getting lined up, how they’re going to run it, what to look for or expect, and how we’re going to react to the different coverages that we might see.”

There will be some challenges though to keep the pace.

For starters, receiver Rueben Randle is back on the injury report this week with a hamstring strain, an injury that caused him to miss Wednesday’s practice.

Last week, Manning had both Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. on the practice field for the first time in weeks and he noted after the game that being able to run through things with all his receivers made a difference.

They’ll also be facing a defense that has been successful in causing turnovers. The Bucs are +2 in takeaways/giveaways, tying them for 13th in the league with the Steelers.

“They do a great job causing turnovers,” Manning said. “Stripping the ball, getting fumbles, getting pressure on the quarterback – they have a good pass rush, good defensive line, and mix up their coverages and disguises. They have a good scheme.”

The other challenge for the offense is to not take anything for granted by cutting corners in their preparation.

“We just have to know each Sunday is different,” Manning said.

“It’s a different day, it’s a different game, it’s a different team, and so we have to make sure that we’re sharp in our preparation this week, that our practices are really good, we’re playing fast, have a good game plan, good understanding of the defense and their scheme and their technique, and go out there and make the plays on Sunday.”

SERIES HISTORY: It is the 19th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 12-6. New York won the last meeting between the two clubs, a 41-34 triumph in Week 2 of the 2012 season. The Giants are 5-5 against the Bucs on the road.

GAME PLAN: All eyes will be on the Giants’ defense, which is coming off one of its worst performances of the season.

The good news is that they will be facing a rookie quarterback in Jameis Winston, who isn’t yet in the same zip code as Drew Brees. The bad news is that the Giants continue to be missing some key parts on defense that could potentially make a difference in the play of the league’s worst-ranked defense.

Linebackers Jon Beason and J.T. Thomas, and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa are all long shots to play. Safety Craig Dahl, the team’s third safety, has his status up in the air as well.

The Giants might be getting back cornerback Prince Amukamara, which would be a huge plus for a defensive secondary that was torched for 505 yards in the air. They also have an outside shot of having defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul make his 2015 debut, which would potentially give the Giants’ sluggish pass rush some much needed fresh legs.

“We’ve got to get players on the field,” Coughlin said. “Certainly, you need them on the field – that’s why they’re here. But at this point in time, many of them are not ready to go, so we do the best we can with what we have.”

Coughlin, who said there won’t be visible changes made on defense, believes his unit will recover from last week’s horror show.

“I think they will bounce back,” he said. “I think what exactly that means, obviously each opponent is a different opponent. I think that the frame of mind will be the right way. I think we’ll bounce back.”

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

–Giants Safeties vs. Bucs Tight Ends.

The New York defense has simply had very few answers against opposing tight ends this season, which is really a continuation of a problem that’s been around for a few years now. The Giants have allowed opposing tight ends 70 or more yards in four of their eight games this season, with two of those opposing tight ends finishing with more than 100 yards (Buffalo’s Charles Clay and New Orleans’ Ben Watson). There is a chance that Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has been sidelined since Week 2, could be back for this game, but if not, the Giants will have to face Brandon Myers, who was with them for a season in 2013, and who has nine receptions for 62 yards. With receiver Mike Evans trying to round back into form and with receiver Vincent Jackson nursing a knee injury, it wouldn’t be surprising if whoever lines up at tight end for the Bucs sees a lot of pass targets.

–Giants Run Defense vs. Bucs RB Doug Martin.

Martin has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the fourth year of his career. Martin is fourth in the NFL with 612 rushing yards and tied for second with seven carries of 20 yards or more. That’s not good news for a Giants run defense which, after a strong start, has tumbled down to 19th in the league, and which has allowed eight big-play runs of 15 or more yards in the last four weeks.


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