If things could go from bad to worse for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it certainly did on Sunday night. Against their division rival under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, the Super Bowl champs fell to the New Orleans Saints for the second time this season. The Buccaneers are 0-4 under Tom Brady against the Saints in the regular season.
Many will point to the injured players at the start of the game and those that went down during the match up. Others may question the offensive play calls, including a deep incomplete pass to Rob Gronkowski on 4th and 1 at the end of the third quarter or running third-string back Ke’Shawn Vaughn on 3rd and 1 in the fourth quarter for no gain.
Ultimately, it appeared the spirit of New Orleans once again haunted Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense. The Saints defense played lights out and with an intensity that was unmatched on the other side of the ball.
“We Didn’t Execute”
Brady was sacked four times, fumbled with a turnover, and threw an interception. “We didn’t execute [well] obviously, and just a tough night. Didn’t do much of anything right,” Brady said. He added, “we have to do better in every facet of offensive football to score points.”
During the first half, Tampa Bay’s offense only managed twice to cross the 50-yard line, with one drive ending in a missed 45-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Succop. The other ended after Brady was sacked for a loss of 7 yards on 3rd down forcing the punt.
One Step Forward….
The rest of their possessions seemed to be one step forward and two steps back. On the Buccaneers first drive, Brady’s short passes to Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin were not enough to convert a first down. Tampa Bay was forced to punt on 4th and 2. Their next attempt included a deep 23-yard pass to Godwin; however, that was followed by two short incomplete passes to Tyler Johnson and a sack on Brady to end the drive.
Conversely, the Saints were a bit more effective on offense. On 3rd and 6 from the New Orleans 36-yard line, Taysom Hill lined up in shotgun formation and threw a 40-yard pass to receiver Marquez Callaway. From the Buccaneers 24-yard line, Alvin Kamara rushed for 5 yards, but Lavonte David tacked running back Mark Ingram on the next play for a loss of 2. Under pressure form the defense, Hill was unable to complete the pass on 3rd and 5. The Saints settled for a 39-yard field goal. It was the only score in the first quarter.
The story continued into the second quarter as Tampa Bay struggled offensively, and New Orleans added points with another 35-yard field goal. The Saints defense continued their relentless attack, including Marcus Davenport’s sack on Brady for a loss of 7 yards on 3rd and 4 to force the Buccaneers to punt at the end of the half.
With the score only 6-0, the Buccaneers attempted to get something on the board in the second half. However, Tampa Bay had already lost several starting receivers during the game including Godwin (knee), Fournette (hamstring), and Mike Evans (hamstring), which contributed to their woes.
Running back Ronald Jones, who started for the Buccaneers in the 2020 season, stepped up with a 12-yard rush followed by a break out 30-yard run down the sideline into New Orleans territory. On 3rd and 7 at the New Orleans 24-yard line, Brady scrambled up the middle, but fumbled as the ball was knocked out by defensive end Cameron Jordan during the tackle. The ball was recovered by Saints Marshon Lattimore at the New Orleans 14-yard line.
That was the last time the Buccaneers would get anywhere near the New Orleans end zone for the rest of the game. The Saints made a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to shut out Tampa Bay 9-0.
Although the loss was disappointing for the Buccaneers, it could have been much worse had their defense not held the Saints to just field goals. They also made a few notable defensive plays including a sack for loss by linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka on third down.
It’s Been 12 Years
“It’s really disappointing, losing at home especially,” Tryon said about the loss. Tampa Bay has not been shut out at home in 12 years. This is certainly not the performance they wanted or expected to put up during a prime time game with a title on the line. Tryon added, “We have to improve on the things that we have to improve on — you know fix the kinks, and move onto the next game.”
Although they failed to clinch the division with this second loss to the Saints, the Buccaneers are still in the hunt. Tampa Bay faces the Carolina Panthers on the road December 26.
The videos used in this story were provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers YouTube channel.