Josh Freeman tied the game with a 41-yard pass to Mike Williams, but Manning drove New York 80 yards in four plays to win it. A 50-yard completing to Nicks led to Brown's score, which came one play after he knelt at the 2 when Tampa Bay was letting him score.
There was an incident between Giants coach Tom Coughlin and former Rutgers and current Bucs coach Greg Schiano at the end of the game. Coughlin yelled at Schiano about a scrum when Manning took a knee after Michael Boley intercepted Freeman's pass in the closing seconds.
Manning was not touched, but there was shoving and maybe even punches in the scrum. Coughlin contended that someone might have been hurt on a play in which teams typically go through the motions.
Manning finished 31 of 51 in helping the Giants gain 604 yards in total offense. Cruz, who attended his grandmother's funeral on Friday, and Hicks, who has battled foot injuries all season and had a foot stomped on in the Giants' 25-point fourth quarter, both had career games.
Cruz finished with 11 catches for 179 yards, both career highs, while Nicks had 10 catches for 199 yards, with the yardage a personal best.
Lawrence Tynes kicked four field goals for the Giants, who played a lot better after a dismal effort in the season-opening 24-17 loss to Dallas 10 days ago. But they were trailing for most of the game.
Freeman finished 15 of 28 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. The first score covered 29 yards to Vincent Jackson, who had five catches for 128 yards. Doug Martin (20 for 66) ran 8 yards for a TD and Eric Wright returned the last of Manning's interceptions 60 yards for a touchdown just :08 before halftime.
Trailing 27-13 early in the second half, the Giants scored 14 straight points. Manning caught safety Ronde Barber cheating for a pass underneath and Cruz ran right past him for his long score. Brown, who carried 13 times for 71 yards filling in for injured Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), tied the game with the 2-point run.
After a three-and-out by the Bucs, Manning drove the Giants 67 yards in four plays, hitting Bennett in stride for a go-ahead touchdown down the right sideline.
The lead didn't last long. Tampa Bay drove 80 yards in five plays, with Freeman hitting Williams with a 41-yard strike in the end zone. Williams seemed to catch it off the helmet of cornerback Justin Tryon.
The Buccaneers turned Manning's three first-half interceptions into 21 points, with the most crushing pick being Wright's 60-yard return for a 24-13 lead. Manning was moving New York into position for a field goal when Wright simply reached up and snatched Manning's short pass to Cruz. He then weaved his way through a logjam and down the sideline.
Linebacker Mason Foster got the first interception at the Giants 28 early in the second quarter when Manning didn't put enough air under a touch pass to Bennett.
Three plays later, Freeman showed poise under pressure and lofted an arcing pass that Jackson caught in stride for a touchdown.
Backup cornerback Brandon McDonald got the second interception as the replacement officials missed a holding call on Barber against Cruz. McDonald returned it 40 yards and a personal foul moved the ball to the 13. Martin scored two plays later.
Manning's 23-yard touchdown pass to Nicks closed the gap to 17-13, but Wright ended the half with his big play.
Tampa Bay 34, N.Y. Giants 41
Tampa Bay 3 21 3 7 34
N.Y. Giants 6 7 3 25 41
NYG • FG Tynes 37, 12:43.
TB • FG Barth 45, 8:42.
NYG • FG Tynes 24, 2:54.
TB • Jackson 29 pass from Freeman (Barth kick), 13:48.
TB • Martin 8 run (Barth kick), 6:19.
NYG • Nicks 23 pass from Manning (Tynes kick), 1:54.
TB • Wright 60 interception return (Barth kick), :08.
TB • FG Barth 52, 13:14.
NYG • FG Tynes 36, :39.
NYG • FG Tynes 24, 12:22.
NYG • Cruz 80 pass from Manning (A.Brown run), 6:48.
NYG • Bennett 33 pass from Manning (Tynes kick), 3:59.
TB • Williams 41 pass from Freeman (Barth kick), 1:58.
NYG • A.Brown 2 run (Tynes kick), :31.
Attendance • 76,964.
First downs 14 31
Total Net Yards 307 604
Rushes-yards 22-79 25-94
Passing 228 510
Punt Returns 2-16 2-23
Kickoff Returns 8-198 4-99
Interceptions Ret. 3-100 2-6
Comp-Att-Int 15-28-2 31-51-3
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-15 0-0
Punts 6-42.0 2-39.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 5-33 7-53
Time of Possession 26:31 33:29
Rushing • Tampa Bay, Martin 20-66, Parker 1-7, Ware 1-6. N.Y. Giants, A.Brown 13-71, Bradshaw 5-16, Wilson 3-6, Hynoski 1-3, Manning 3-(minus 2).
Passing • Tampa Bay, Freeman 15-28-2-243. N.Y. Giants, Manning 31-51-3-510.
Receiving • Tampa Bay, Jackson 5-128, Clark 4-33, Williams 3-59, Stroughter 1-14, Lorig 1-8, Ware 1-1. N.Y. Giants, Cruz 11-179, Nicks 10-199, Bennett 5-72, A.Brown 2-19, Barden 1-24, Hixon 1-12, Hynoski 1-5.
Missed Field Goals • None.