TAMPA, Florida — Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith could easily pinpoint the miscues that helped send the Buccaneers to the loss.
Three lost fumbles, nine penalties and scoring just one touchdown in four trips into the red zone cost Tampa Bay in a 32-18 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
"Thought we were there. Thought we were ready to get over the hump," Smith said. "But we're not quite there yet. In the end, we dropped balls, untimely penalties in terrible situations. Fumbles didn't help.
"We did some things that kept us from winning the football game. When a game ends up like this one did, things like that really stand out."
Eli Manning threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns, helping NFC East-leading New York rebound from last weekend's debacle at New Orleans.
Josh Brown booted four field goals for the Giants (5-4), including fourth-quarter kicks of 53 and 44 yards that gave New York some breathing room after the Bucs pulled within two points. The victory on the heels of a 52-49 loss to the Saints moved New York back over .500.
Manning threw first-half TD passes of 8 yards to Reuben Randle and 4 yards to Shane Vereen. The defense, bolstered by the return of Jason Pierre-Paul, did its part by keeping the Jameis Winston-led Tampa Bay offense out of the end zone until the rookie scrambled 10 yards for a TD that made it 20-18 with 9:25 remaining.
Winston's 2-point conversion pass to the rear of the end zone was caught out of bounds. The Giants sealed the victory with Brown's fourth field goal following a long, time-consuming drive, and Trevin Wade had a fumble recovery for a touchdown on the game's final play.
"Eventually we're going to break through," Winston said. "Eventually it's going to happen."
Winston completed 19 of 36 passes for 247 yards. The rookie went a fourth straight game without a turnover, but running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims hurt Tampa Bay's chances of winning consecutive games for the first time in two years by losing fumbles.
A week after allowing 608 yards, including 505 yards and a record-tying seven touchdowns passing to Drew Brees, the NFL's last-ranked defense held the Bucs to three first-half field goals — one after Manning threw an interception on the first play of the game and another after Winston and Mike Evans teamed on a 68-yard catch and run to the New York 12.
Evans had eight receptions for 152 yards, but also hurt the Bucs with several dropped passes.
"I cost my team big time," Evans said. "It's on me. I got to be better."
Pierre-Paul made his season debut for the Giants, playing for the first time since the July 4 fireworks accident that sidelined him for training camp and the first eight games.
The sixth-year pro lost his right index finger and suffered other damage to the hand in the accident. He returned to practice two weeks ago and was believed to be on track to return next week against the New England Patriots.
But he progressed enough during workouts that the Giants decided to activate him against the Bucs.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for Pierre-Paul, who played in college at South Florida. The Bulls play home games in Raymond James Stadium, which is also home to the Bucs.
"He needs to get his timing down, obviously," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "I think he made a couple of outstanding rushes, particularly at the end. I think he's just going to get better and better."
Pierre-Paul had two solo tackles and two quarterback hits.
Manning, who threw for six TDs the previous week against the Saints, completed 26 of 40 passes and was intercepted twice. Odell Beckham Jr. had nine receptions for 105 yards.
"When you have an opportunity to win and you lose it based on things you did, correctable things, it's disappointing," Smith said.
NOTES: Tampa Bay OL Ali Marpet (ankle) and S Bradley McDougald (concussion) both left due to injury. ... The Bucs outgained the Giants 385-327. ... The Giants had the ball for 34:55, compared to Tampa Bay's 25:05. ... Evans was targeted 19 times.