The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the beautiful crescent city of New Orleans on Halloween with an opportunity to take a stranglehold on the lead of the NFC South but found themselves tricked by Saints in a stunning 36-27 loss and now face a much tighter division race. I promise that’s the last of the Halloween puns for today.
What I Liked
- The stat sheet says Mike Evans only caught two balls against Marshon Lattimore again, but Evans played a great game on Sunday, getting open several times only to be missed by his quarterback.
- Cyril Grayson torching the Saints’ secondary to take the lead.
- Chris Godwin and Tyler Johnson playing a great game.
What I Didn’t
- The Bucs beating the Buccaneers in New Orleans (again).
- Jameis Winston’s injury – Get well soon, Jameis!
Pieces of Eight
Forgive me for the length of this first piece of eight. I don’t get it. I honestly don’t. For some reason, the New Orleans Saints have this witchcraft over the Bucs that brings the worst out of this football team. While the Buccaneers aren’t the most disciplined team in the league (they were among the league leaders in penalties entering the game), against the Saints, it always seems to be worse.
Some have wondered what wizardry Sean Payton comes up with to beat Tampa Bay. It’s simple. Play within yourselves and wait for the Bucs to screw up. It only failed him once in the last 7 meetings.
With the exception of the first scoring drive by New Orleans engineered by Winston’s scrambling ability, each and every scoring drive by the Saints was set up or extended by a penalty (typically a personal foul) or a turnover by the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
Here’s some examples:
In the second quarter, the score tied at 7 and the Buccaneers driving into Saints’ territory, Tristan Wirfs is pushed into Brady, knocking the ball loose and New Orleans recovers at their own 37.
Trevor Siemian, in for the injured Jameis Winston, moved the Saints to the Bucs’ 26 yd line. Facing 2-and-12, Siemian threw an incomplete pass…personal foul: Devin White for roughing the passer – his hand grazed Siemian’s head as he jumped to deflect the pass. On the very next play, Antoine Winfield, Jr. intercepts Siemian in the end zone ending the threat – but wait – personal foul on Will Gholston, roughing the passer. Gholston had his helmet ripped off by a Saints lineman and didn’t realize Siemian had thrown the ball, he shoved the QB but Siemian never hit the ground. No penalty for illegal hands to the face by the Saints player, but a flag on Gholston for roughing the passer – wiping out the pick. The Saints would kick a field goal.
William Gholston with the roughing the passer penalty during the Antoine Winfield interception… pic.twitter.com/RX4xKbBq4y
— Justin (@hobokenjustin) October 31, 2021
Bucs next drive, Brady forces a pass intended for Godwin but was intercepted by Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who returned it to the Tampa Bay 35. A few plays later, on 3rd-and-goal, Siemian found Alex Armah, who hadn’t scored a touchdown since 2019, in the flat and he outraced the Buccaneers defense to the endzone. Suddenly it’s 16-7 Saints.
First Drive of the second half, Siemian converts a 4th-and-4 at the Bucs’ 32-yard line on a pass to Deonte Harris, then on 2nd-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 10, the Buccaneers stuff Alvin Kamara for minimal gain – except reserve d-lineman Anthony Nelson was lined up offsides, giving the down back to the Saints and moving the ball to the Bucs’ 5-yard line. Two plays later, on 4th down from the Tampa Bay 1 yard line, Alvin Kamara outraced the Bucs to the pylon for a gut punch touchdown – Saints 23, Bucs 7.
The Buccaneers offense roars to life with two touchdowns to pull within 2 points at 23-21. Early in the fourth quarter with the football, the Bucs are driving to take the lead, but Ryan Jensen gets called for holding, a penalty the offense couldn’t recover from and Tampa Bay surrenders the ball.
Next drive, 3rd-and-5 for the Saints at their own 44, Jason Pierre-Paul jumps offsides, giving New Orleans a free first down. On the next play, Mark Ingram rumbles for 6 yards. Devin White makes the tackle downfield and decides it’s a great time to flex over the fallen Ingram – personal foul – Taunting – instead of New Orleans having the ball at midfield, it’s at the Tampa Bay 35. The Saints would end up getting a field goal to extend their lead to 6.
It was a short-lived lead as Brady and the offense would score again with 5:54 left, giving the Buccaneers a 27-26 lead, their first since early in the ballgame. All the defense has to do is stop Trevor Siemian and the Saints from getting into field goal range. 3rd-and-5 at the Tampa Bay 33 yard line. Siemian throws it incomplete, the Saints will have to attempt a 50 yard field goal with 2:46 left in the game.
If he makes it, plenty of time for Brady as Tampa Bay has their full allotment of timeouts, if he doesn’t game ov – wait, what? Another penalty? Defensive Holding on Ross Cockrell, automatic first down. New Orleans would bleed the clock down to 1:44, Tampa Bay uses up one of their time outs (thanks to Sean Payton inexplicably calling pass plays instead of running the football), and the Saints cash in on a chip shot field goal to retake the lead 29-27.
Then, the final nail, Brady, needing only to move the Buccaneers into field goal position for the win, inexplicably misses a wide open Mike Evans in the middle of the field and telegraphs a pass toward Chris Godwin, safety P.J. Williams stepped in front and zig zags his way 40 yards for the game-sealing pick-six touchdown.
That, friends, is how the Buccaneers lose a game they had no business losing.
Devin White is killing his football team. Be it his uncontrolled “freelancing”, his poor pass coverage, his overrunning of plays on the blitz, bad angles, lack of impact plays, or his idiotic penalties, White continues to be an ugly sore spot in the Bucs’ defense.
White had three costly personal fouls in the game. Two were definitely debatable. The horse collar call where Jameis Winston got injured looked more like White got him from the shoulder pad, it just looked terrible and drew the flag. The roughing the passer call in the second quarter was also ticky-tack, but you can’t touch the QB’s head – period. White was just trying to bat the pass down and it was a bit of bad luck, but it is what it is and hurt Tampa Bay.
The most egregious was with the Bucs clinging to a slim one-point lead late in the fourth quarter and Tampa Bay just giving the Saints a free first down with an offsides call on the previous play, White made a terrible, selfish penalty. Saints running back Mark Ingram rushed for 6 yards to midfield. White made the tackle downfield, got up, and decided it was the perfect time to show off, flexing over the Saints running back. A taunting penalty – personal foul. It’s a stupid rule. We all hate it. Yet we all know that it can’t happen. It shouldn’t happen in any situation, but it especially can’t happen in THAT situation.
Since the playoff run, White seems to be a bit full of himself and thinks he’s better than he is. As a result, his play has fallen, his impact plays have disappeared (he has no interceptions, forced fumbles or sacks, and just one TFL) and his antics are costing his team. In most cases, the Buccaneers have the talent to cover for him and overcome it, but in hostile New Orleans against a solid Saints team, it devastated their chances for victory.
Even the greatness that is Tom Brady isn’t immune to the New Orleans Hoo Doo. Brady continues to be vexed by the Saints, committing 3 turnovers. In his previous seven games, he had 4 total. The turnovers led to 16 of the Saints’ 36 points and it could be said were really why the Bucs ended the game with a big fat L.
Yes, Brady rallied the Bucs, threw another 4 touchdowns and nearly 400 yards against a very good Saints defense, but with the ball in his hand needing just a field goal to win the game, Brady killed his team with a pick-six.
Brady has thrown 17 interceptions in 24 starts in the regular season for Tampa Bay. 7 of those have been to the Saints in 3 games.
For the third straight game, the Buccaneers defense surrendered over 100 yards rushing, this time a season high 152 yards. Now granted, many of the yards have come with mobile quarterbacks running away from the Bucs’ pass rush, 42 of the Saints 152 yds was thanks to Winston (with 2 yds contributed by Siemian). Alvin Kamara was held mostly in check, under 100 yds from scrimmage and one touchdown.
Still, teams used to be scared to try and run on the Bucs, but you have to wonder if that fear is starting to wane. Is it better to keep slamming into the line, bleed the clock and keep the ball out of Brady’s hands? It didn’t work for Chicago or Philly, but it seemed to work for the Saints. Tampa Bay still boasts the number one run defense in the NFL, albeit by the skin of their teeth (they lead New Orleans by 1.4 yards in that category), yet you have to wonder if the Buccaneers are going to see more teams try to pound their way to victory.
Most Bucs fans felt a knot in their stomach when they saw Jameis Winston go down with what appears to be a season ending knee injury in the second quarter. Winston was playing solidly against his former team, making plays with his arm and his feet. It was a good, hard fought game up to that point and had the makings to be a fun chess match. When Winston got hurt, everything seemed to be set on its ear. You could see it affected the Saints, who banded together and fought for their fallen QB and maybe it affected the Bucs a bit, too, as they seemed just as shocked by it. Jameis has a lot of close friends in Tampa Bay that genuinely care for him.
We here at Bucs Report wish Jameis the best in his recovery.
Mike Evans deserved a lot better on Sunday. In the first half, Evans got behind his nemesis Marshon Lattimore, burning the 3-time Pro Bowl corner like he was a practice squad player, but Tom Brady overthrew him on what would have been a walk-in touchdown. Evans would again get behind Lattimore in the third quarter, this time Brady hit him with a 41-yard score. Then on the throw that basically ended the game, Evans crossed the field and was completely wide open, but Brady forced the ball to Godwin and P.J. Williams pick-sixed him to seal the deal for New Orleans.
Such is life for Evans against Lattimore. Saints fans will look at Evans stats 2 receptions for 48 yds and a touchdown and crow that they “shut him down again”. Yet there are no stats for the times Evans beat Lattimore like a drum only to have Brady overthrow him, miss seeing him or for Lattimore to desperately interfere with Evans to avoid the stat hit (he tried it again on Evans touchdown but the Buccaneers star WR hauled in the pass anyway).
The narrative will be Marshon Lattimore is Mike Evans’ kryptonite, but anyone who actually watches these games and doesn’t just look at the stat line know the difference.
With it being a divisional day in the NFC South, it got off to a good start as Carolina got off the mat to cool off the Falcons and hand them their fourth loss of the season, keeping the Dirty Birds (3-4) two and a half games back. Carolina, now 4-4 is 2 games back. The Saints can actually take over the lead in the NFC South if they beat the Falcons next week. Carolina will host the surging Patriots, who have won three of their last four since losing to Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers did take a hit in the chase for the number one seed, though. The Rams, Packers, and Cowboys all got wins, while the Cardinals did finally sustain their first loss. Tampa Bay slumps to the fourth seed in the NFC. If New Orleans wins next week against Atlanta, the Bucs will tumble all the way down to the sixth seed in the NFC. Yikes.
Next up for the Bucs, a much needed bye week. Two weeks to stew on this embarrassing loss. Two weeks for Tampa Bay to get back to basics, emphasize on discipline and not beating themselves. Two weeks to prepare for a 2-6 Washington Football Team, who will also be on their bye this week. Here’s hoping Tampa Bay can get their heads out of their collective backsides and get some soldiers back for the rest of the campaign.
Tweet of the Week
Turnovers & Penalties. The team was too stupid to win today. Unbelievable how these self destructive habits always seems to happen against this Saints team.Huge opportunity blown by the #Bucs to really take hold of the Div.#Bucs | #Saints | #GoBucs | #WHODat |#TBvsNO | #WeDat pic.twitter.com/JKbPKA7WH5
— 👽 🏴☠️ Lord JC De La Torre🏴☠️ ✌️ (@jcdelatorre) October 31, 2021