The Tampa Bay Buccaneers stepped up when it mattered the most against their rival New Orleans Saints at the NFC Divisional Round 30-20. One key stat was the matchup between Bucs cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting and Saints star wide receiver Michael Thomas. Playing a career game, Murphy-Bunting held Thomas to 0 catches after four targets. One of Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees throws ended up an interception to Murphy-Bunting. It would be one of three turnovers from the future Hall of Famer. The fourth turnover was caused by rookie Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr punching the ball from Saints tight end Jared Cook causing a fumble.
How Buccaneers Sean Murphy-Bunting Prepared for Saints’ Michael Thomas
“Man, we just played ball,” Murphy-Bunting told the NFL Network’s James Palmer via Twitter. “I’m not the type to be doing the back and forth, he said, she said thing. But I took it to heart when during pregame I’m sitting on the bench, and he’s walking down the sideline mean-mugging me three or four times. I don’t say much, but when you do something like that, it’s like you’re trying me as a man. So with all that taunting stuff that he does, and muscles up and all that, he didn’t do it one time this game. I’m not going to sit here and trash talk anybody. He’s a really, really, really good receiver. Catch radius. He’s really talented. But at the end of the day, you’re not going to try me as a man. You’re not going to try any of my guys. We’re going to battle. That’s it.”
Murphy-Bunting’s interception was almost a pick-six, but led to a short-yardage touchdown for the Bucs offense. He joins the Hall of Fame finalist Ronde Barber as the only players in franchise history with interceptions in consecutive playoff games. The second-rounder also picked Washington QB Taylor Heinicke in the wildcard round. Can Murphy-Bunting hold down Green Bay’s Devonte Adams? We’ll see when the Buccaneers battle the Packers in the NFC Conference Title game at Lambeau Field on Sunday.