In a game likely no one outside of the tri-state area believed they had a chance in, the Giants were this close to forcing overtime on Monday Night Football.
The play design was ideal. All Daniel Jones needed to do was complete a pitch-and-catch to running back Dion Lewis to knot things up 25-all. But a moment of hesitation opened the door for Bucs rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. to make a game-sealing deflection that will be a subject of debate Tuesday morning.
Was it defensive pass interference? The initial flag on the play suggested so. A quick conference from the officials, however, ultimately deemed that there was no penalty.
"I thought [field judge Nathan Jones] made the right call when he threw the flag. So, I'm not sure why it got picked up," Giants coach Joe Judge said postgame after noting the team is not "asking for moral victories."
After the Giants squandered their lead in the fourth quarter, it fell on Jones, who put onlookers through the ringer with his decision-making all night, to step up and make plays to position New York for an improbable win. And he nearly did after slinging a 19-yard laser to Golden Tate in the back of the end zone to push his team within two, 25-23.
For a moment on the ensuing two-point attempt, it appeared the second-year QB had a wide-open Lewis to his right, but delayed his throw for a second too long, allowing Winfield to close the distance and make a play. The replay appeared to show Winfield and the ball nearly reached Lewis simultaneously. From Bruce Arians' vantage point, things played out as they were meant to.
"The ball hit Antoine in the back. To me, it was no pass interference," Arians said. "I thought it was a good call. I don't know why it took so long."
Arians went on to praise the impressive rook for his consistency and energy on the field, saying, "He's a baller. I mean, he's got it in his bloodline. There's no stage that's too big for him."
No lights are brighter than the ones in prime time and, when his team needed it, Winfield came up clutch. As for Jones and the Giants, pushing a dangerous Tampa team to the absolute brink was certainly more than anybody expected. It just wasn't enough to pull off an upset.