TAMPA, Fla. -- It's over.
Maybe not mathematically for the New York Giants after losing 30-10 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night at Raymond James Stadium. They technically can make the postseason. Realistically, however, any chance of being a playoff contender is nothing more than a fantasy at this point, even in a year where parity is at its highest.
“There wasn’t much that was good,” quarterback Daniel Jones said.
The Giants (3-7) will simply be playing out the string over the final seven weeks of this season. After all that money spent this offseason -- with the additions of wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney and cornerback Adoree' Jackson and the return of running back Saquon Barkley -- this group couldn't even meet the modest expectations from ownership to show substantial progress and be in contention for a playoff spot. It's over before Thanksgiving.
What a disappointment, and now it seems inevitable changes will be coming. Not necessarily in the next few weeks, but almost certainly when the season ends, with all eyes on general manager Dave Gettleman and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. They're on the clock. The offense (10 points) and overall state of the roster remain problematic.
"Obviously, a tough loss, but we're going to rally together," offensive tackle Andrew Thomas said. "The biggest thing that we talked about in the locker room is not pointing a finger at anyone. Everyone looing in the mirror and fixing whatever they have to, to be better."
It's also going to be a vital final seven weeks for Jones, who threw a pair of interceptions and struggled against the Bucs.
Troubling trend: Barkley was held under 100 total yards for the fifth time in six games this season. He returned after missing four games with an ankle injury and had 25 yards on six carries and six catches for another 31 yards. That's 56 yards total. It was, for the most part, a nondescript performance.
Sure, this was Barkley's first time playing in six weeks after an ankle injury he wouldn't provide many details on the other day. But it was his sixth game played this season, and he has topped 100 total yards in one of those contests. One.
At some point, if Barkley is on the field he has to produce. No excuses. Not that Tampa Bay entered Monday night second in rush defense or it was his first game back. Not that his ankle wasn't at 100 percent.
"It's just getting my feet back caught up again," Barkley said. "It's a little frustrating to have to sit out again and come back and feel like how I was in Week 1 [off the torn ACL] getting my feet caught back up. That just comes with missing a little time. Just getting my body back. I'm going to do whatever it takes to continue to get my body back. To get my brain and my feet and my legs caught up together."
Barkley was on the field for 32 of 54 offensive snaps against the Bucs. The Giants need him to produce.
Eye-popping Next Gen stat: Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had four pass plays with at least 4.0 seconds to throw in the first half.
Brady is known for getting rid of the ball lightning quick. He entered Monday night with the second-quickest time to throw of any quarterback this season at 2.51 seconds.
The Giants' lack of pass rush meant that wasn’t necessarily the case in the first half Monday. Brady had four plays on which he held the ball for at least 4.0 seconds. He went 3-of-4 for 55 yards on those plays.
Clearly you can’t let Brady sit back there unthreatened by the defense. That happened throughout the game as the Giants, who spoke throughout the week about needing interior pressure to have any chance against Brady, had six pressures on 47 of his dropbacks.
Biggest hole in the game plan: Where was Golladay?
The Giants paid Golladay a ton this offseason ($40 million guaranteed). He was healthy on Monday night, finally past the knee injury that cost him three games earlier this season, and he saw two targets. He finished with one catch for 12 yards.
Garrett needs to find a way to get Golladay involved. He’s supposed to be the Giants' No. 1 receiver. Golladay also had two catches for 12 yards in the previous game before the bye week against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Pivotal play: Jackson's interception leading to Thomas' TD.
Just when it looked as if the Bucs were going to make this a blowout, they made a mistake that allowed the Giants to get back in the game down 10-3 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
Brady threw a quick slip-screen to wide receiver Mike Evans that clanked off his hands and popped into the air deep in Tampa Bay territory. Jackson parked underneath that popup, made the interception and took it down to the Bucs’ 5-yard line.
It was the gift the Giants needed. It helped them remain in the game into the second half.
New York scored two plays later when (who else?) Thomas caught a 2-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-10 early in the second quarter. A fantastic leaping big-man grab.
Thomas, the second-year left tackle, now has catches for a touchdown and a 2-point conversion in his young career.
It’s probably not an accident the Giants' offensive linemen ran a drill early in Saturday’s practice where they were catching passes. Thomas said afterward he already held the 2-point conversion over the heads of his fellow offensive linemen. Now he really has all bragging rights with the touchdown, which came in impressive fashion.
It was the highlight of the night for the Giants.