TAMPA, Fla. — The Buccaneers insist their confidence in Nick Folk never wavered.
The veteran kicker brought in to help Jameis Winston win games missed two field goals and an extra point, giving the New York Giants a chance to breathe life into their season Sunday.
But with the clock running down and the Bucs (2-1) trailing by one point, though, Winston took a knee twice to position the ball in the centre of the field for a 34-yard field goal that gave the Bucs a 25-23 victory and kept the Giants winless.
"After he missed that second one, I went to him and told him: ‘You’re going to win this game for us,"’ Winston said after answering Eli Manning’s second TD pass with an impressive drive that began at his 25.
"He wasn’t down at all, his spirits were up … and he won it. I never had a doubt."
The Giants (0-4) lost on a last-second field goal for the second straight week . They took a 23-22 lead on Rhett Ellison’s 2-yard TD reception with 3:16 remaining.
Manning threw to Odell Beckham Jr., in the rear of the end zone for a 2-point conversion that was disallowed because the receiver had stepped out of bounds before making the catch.
"It’s tough to lose two games in a row on walk-off field goals," Manning said.
"A tough one there that came down to the end again," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said. "We’ve got a lot of fight in us, but so do a lot of teams in this league. We have to minimize the mistakes and maximize the details to give us a chance to win these games."
Winston threw TDs passes of 6 yards to Mike Evans and 58 yards to rookie O.J. Howard in building an early 13-0 lead. His 14-yard scoring pass to Cameron Brate put the Bucs up 22-17 midway through the fourth quarter, setting the stage for an exciting close.
"The way Jameis was throwing the ball, I was confident we’d have a chance," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said after the third-year pro completed 22 of 38 passes without a turnover in what amounted to a complete turnaround from the previous week when Winston tossed three interceptions in a lopsided loss at Minnesota.
"When Jameis plays like (Sunday)," Koetter added, "we’re going to be hard to beat."
A week after scoring his first two touchdowns of the season and being fined $12,154 for a dog-like TD celebration, Beckham had seven receptions for 90 yards, including a 42-yarder that led to Manning’s pass to Ellison for New York’s short-lived one-point lead.
Manning finished 30 of 49 for 288 yards and no interceptions. He threw a 4-yard TD pass to Wayne Gallman in the third quarter and also scored New York’s first rushing TD of the season on a 14-yard scramble.
The Giants are off to their worst start since 2013, when they started 0-6 before winning seven of 10 down the stretch to finish 7-9.
"It’s surprising," Manning said. "We still have a good team. We’re doing some good things, but we’re not making enough plays to win the game. In this league you have to earn it. It’s not easy. We’re doing some good things, but not enough to win a game."
Giants: Beckham left for the final four plays of New York’s first TD drive when he injured a finger on his right hand attempting to make a catch along the sideline. He returned on the team’s next possession. … DE Olivier Vernon left in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. … DT Damon Harrison left in the third quarter with a bruised knee, but returned. … C Weston Richberg left in the second half with a concussion. RB Paul Perkins sat out part of the second half with a rib injury.
Buccaneers: They played without LBs Lavonte David (ankle) and Kwon Alexander (hamstring), as well as S T.J. Ward. … S Keith Tandy left in the second half with a hip injury and did not return.
NOWHERE TO RUN
The Giants continue to struggle running the ball, finishing with 91 yards on 28 attempts. Gallman finished with 42 yards and 11 carries. Manning was team’s second-leading rusher with 22 yards on three attempts. Jacquizz Rodgers led Tampa Bay with 83 yards and 16 attempts, filling in for Doug Martin, serving the final week of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancers.
IN THE BOOTH
The Fox broadcast crew working the game featured twin brothers Ronde and Tiki Barber, who played their entire NFL careers for the Bucs and Giants, respectively.
After playing together in college at Virginia, Ronde spent 16 years for Tampa Bay and Tiki starred for 10 seasons in New York. They were 2-2 in head-to-head meetings as pros.
Giants: Return home to face the Los Angeles Chargers.
Buccaneers: Remain at home, hosting New England on Thursday night.