If the saying “it’s not over until the fat lady sings” is correct, then she is warming up right now because this Buccaneers season is all but over now. The Bucs were winners of two straight and the playoffs were looking like it could be a realistic thing until they just lost to the New Orleans Saints 28-14. The Saints clinched the NFC South with the win and that is impressive but they did not impress me much at all today. Bucs beat themselves and quite possibly have ended their own season.
How They Started
The start could not have gone any better for Tampa Bay than it did. They got the ball to start and marched all the way down the field and scored on a pass from Jameis Winston to Cameron Brate. The drive was perfect and the Bucs were up 7-0. The real test for this Bucs team was going to be trying to stop Drew Brees and the Saints explosive offense. They rose to the occasion early as they would force the Saints to punt and the Bucs got the ball right back with a chance to extend their lead. The Bucs gained a few firsts, but would be forced to punt as well. The Bucs defense again stood up the Saints offense and forced them to punt. Could this offense get something going? Well the answer was yes and no. They had a solid drive that featured four first downs, but it was all for nothing when Cairo Santos missed his first field goal as a Buccaneer. The Saints would take that miss and turn it into a drive that ended with a Will Lutz field goal. The Bucs lead was cut to 4. The Bucs next drive was very frustrating as it featured multiple penalties and overall poor offensive line play. The Saints would get the ball back and it was a big one because the Saints could potentially double up with touchdowns since they would get the ball to begin the second half. The Bucs defense said “don’t worry about that” when linebacker Adarious Taylor picked Drew Brees around mid field and boy that could not have come at a better time. The Bucs would capitalize on the turnover and cash in with a Touchdown pass to Cameron Brate again and the Bucs had full control of the game, leading 14-3 at halftime.
At The Half
The first half could have been better on offense, but the defense played spectacular. They had the perfect plan to stop Brees and company. The offense was very up and down but they scored two touchdowns and were protecting the football so all was good. It’s unfortunate that Cairo Santos’ streak with the Bucs was over but all good things must come to an end. The Bucs had a good lead at the half, but we all knew that Sean Payton was going to make adjustments. He’s too good of a coach. The biggest thing would be if the Bucs could adjust themselves and how well they would handle the Saints adjustments. This game was big for the Bucs season so they really had to play a solid second half. Here we go.
How They Finished
The Saints got the ball and the Bucs yet again, could not have had a better start to the half. The second play of the half was a strip sack by Carl Nassib that was recovered by Jason Pierre-Paul and the Bucs were in business at the Saints 27 yard line. The offense could not get anything going and Cairo Santos would miss his second field goal of the game and that one hurt. The Bucs defense would hold again though even after the Saints started to gain momentum after the missed kick. What really shifted momentum was the Bucs next possession. The Bucs were forced to punt but the punt was blocked by Taysom Hill and the Saints suddenly had life. They drove the ball down pretty easily and scored a touchdown. Everything the Bucs did so well on defense in the first half was gone on that drive. The Saints began to do whatever they wanted to with this defense. The Saints were able to get the 2 point conversion so the score was 14-11. The Bucs were back on offense and needed an answer but they were left searching for answers rather than finding them when they were forced to punt again. The Saints would get the ball and take 10 plays to get into the endzone after Drew Brees ran a successful QB sneak on 4th and goal and now the Buccaneers were trailing for the first time since week 11. The next drive was not what they were looking for as they went 3 and out and had negative 3 yards on the drive. The Saints would follow that up with yet another touchdown drive as Mark Ingram carried Bucs defenders into the endzone for a 17 yard touchdown and that was pretty much gonna be the dagger. They Bucs were now down 25-14 and were in desperate need of a score. They did not get as Winston was sacked on 3rd down and the Bucs were forced to punt again. The Saints were then able to run down a lot of clock and kick a field goal to make it 28-14. This game was pretty much over but the Bucs got the ball one last time and just tried to get something going. With less than 10 seconds left, Winston lofted a pass in the endzone that was intercepted by Marshon Lattimore to wrap things up. The Buccaneers playoff hopes were pretty much dashed at that point.
This game truly was the tale of two halves. In the first half the defense was executing perfectly and the offense was getting the job done. 14 points was simply not gonna be enough to beat the Saints and it proved to be true in this game. The Bucs offensive line had their worst game of the season today. Way too many penalties and blown assignments for the Bucs to win this game. Jameis Winston played fine but wasn’t under duress way too much. The defense played their best and it just was not enough. The Bucs season is now looking very much in doubt and they may be eliminated from playoff contention here soon. They play Baltimore next week and for many players and coaches on this team, they will be playing for their jobs these next 3 games.