While Webster wasn't called on to make any tackles, he provided superb coverage on Bucs WR Joey Galloway all game long and provided the game's turning point when he intercepted Jeff Garcia in the end zone.
"It's the best feeling in the world," Webster smiled after his big-time game.
"Corey was outstanding," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "I felt he would play well coming into this game. He practiced well, he's a guy who has exceptional hands and was in very good position in coverage, not only on the interception, but very early on in the game as well."
It was clear that Webster had his ‘A' game right from the start, when the Bucs went after him on a couple deep passes. He more than held his own.
"Corey just shut things down today," Gibril Wilson said. "I've been playing with him for three years and that's the best I've ever seen him."
"Corey's an extremely talented guy," Kawika Mitchell said. "They want him to play physical in Coach Spags' system. Once he gets that down, he'll be one of the better corners in the league."
Webster knew the Bucs would be looking to exploit him.
"Coach Spags told me to go out there and do what I did in college," Webster said. "The (Bucs) did test me a couple times early."
Webster started the critical third quarter the right way when he was able to corral a Bucs fumble by Michael Spurlock before it bounced out of bounds. That gave New York the ball at the Bucs 30-yard line.
"I was positive I had it," Webster said.
Then, later that quarter he picked off Bucs QB Jeff Garcia in the end zone, helping New York preserve its 17-7 lead.
"They had the ball in our territory so it changed the whole field position around," Webster said. "We're always coached to catch the ball at its highest point and I did that."
With that pick, the Giants were comfortably heading to victory – and a second-round matchup with Dallas on Sunday. And for that they mostly had Corey Webster to thank.
"He played lights out today," rookie corner Aaron Ross said. "His number was called when Sam went down and he stepped in and did a good job."
"Webster stepped in and did a great job for them," Garcia added.
Reserve center Grey Ruegamer appeared to struggle early replacing Shaun O'Hara, but settled in nicely and played a pretty solid game.
When the Bucs marched basically effortlessly through New York's defense on Tampa's second possession, it seemed like a cause for alarm. Fortunately for the Giants and their fans, it was a false alarm. After that, the Buccaneers wouldn't score again until the final minutes, at which time the game was already well in hand for Big Blue.
While the Giants only sacked Garcia once (a five-yarder by Michael Strahan), they were credited with hitting him 11 times and hurrying him on countless others.
"Our defensive line came up big," Mitchell said. "Pressure on the QB leads to turnovers and mistakes. We knew they were a plus-15 (in turnover ratio). The pressure is what was helping us out the most."
"We knew their front seven was tough," Garcia said.
Garcia admitted he was getting weary from having Giants defenders in his face all game long.
"It wears on you, it does," he said. "They create pressure in certain ways. Their D-line does a great job of getting after the quarterback and they did a great job of mixing up blitzes at opportune times for them and frustrating us."
"That's the strength of our defense, the front four," Justin Tuck said. "We came to play today."
As for Mitchell, he was the only one of the injured trio that was able to play. And he came through the game unscathed.
"The brace is really uncomfortable," he said. "But it didn't sting me. I didn't injure it further."
Mitchell anticipates getting Madison and O'Hara back against the Cowboys.
"It'll be nice to get more bullets back next week," he said
Here's what some of the Giants were saying after their big playoff win in Tampa Bay.
"It's nice to get that first win of the playoffs out of the way." – LB Kawika Mitchell
"We're going to enjoy this one but we're going to have to get right back at it when we get home." – Coach Tom Coughlin
"We're just a bunch of confident guys on the road." – S Gibril Wilson
"I was extremely tired after that drive. That was huge. That was the game." – RG Chris Snee on New York's 92-yard drive
"Hopefully the third time is the charm for us and we can win." – DE Michael Strahan
"You know, it says a lot about us. We have great character in here. Guys in here have a lot of heart. – RB Brandon Jacobs
Sittin' it out
In addition to Madison and O'Hara, the following Giants did not dress: RB Danny Ware, DB Geoffrey Pope, DT Manny Wright, WR Sinorice Moss and TE Jerome Collins. Jared Lorenzen was the club's third quarterback. Needless to say, since his production has been slim and none for most of the season, Moss was not missed. Steve Smith performed just fine as the team's third receiver, catching three passes for 29 yards.
The Giants' Chris Mara will interview for the vacant Atlanta Falcons GM post. Mara, who is well thought of around the league, has yet to take an outside job since his family owns half of the Giants. However, the Falcons post is viewed to be a very desirable job and he's understandably interested. For more on this developing story and all things Giants playoffs check out giantinsider.com.
Webster ‘Outstanding' in Place of Madison
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