Dazed and confused. That's how I feel after yesterday's game. It's a mixed bag of emotions for me.
I'm excited we're in the playoffs, glad to have 11 wins, but I'm disappointed that we tried to win for the first three quarters, but couldn't hold the lead (in addition to the Buccaneers' strong play, our turnovers, poor execution, and injuries killed us). But maybe they really didn't try as hard as they could have, knowing it was only a slim chance to win the #1 seed.
Which Saints team will show up next week? Hopefully it'll be the one that fought hard in big games (Pittsburgh, Atlanta II), or the one that played crisply and with urgency and effort in blowout wins (Tampa I, St. Louis, Seattle, Carolina II). The time is now to put a stamp on this season and show everyone what kind of team we are.
The final regular season edition of Who Dat Say is chock full of post-game recaps, analysis, quotes, videos, tweets, reactions, and a look ahead to the Wild Card matchup next Saturday in Seattle. There is much to read/watch, so I hope you scheduled a long lunch break for yourself.
See you after the jump!
Statistics, Recaps and Summaries
Halftime observations on Bucs-Saints - NFC South Blog - ESPN.com
Pat Y. -- Time for some halftime observations and notes on the Saints and Buccaneers with Tampa Bay leading 10-7.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints | ESPN.com
Recap, stats, play-by-play, drive charts, highlights, and photos.
NFL Game Center: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints | nfl.com
Recap, stats, play-by-play, drive charts, and video highlights.
GAME BLOG: New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers | neworleans.com
Jude Young's in-game updates.
Tampa Bay beats the New Orleans Saints 23-13 at the Superdome | NOLA.com
Jeff Duncan - In-game updates and initial thoughts.
Saints smacked by Bucs in game that meant little | wwltv.com | Eye on Black and Gold
Staff/wire reports - game recap.
Saints fall to Buccaneers, 23-13 | neworleanssaints.com
Staff Report - Game recap.
Saints Postgame Notes | neworleanssaints.com
Bucs beat Saints; N.O. settles for wild card | 2theadvocate.com
Gary Laney's quickie game recap.
jeffduncantp I know this might shock folks, but Sean Payton did not give any updates on the Saints' injured players. None were in the locker room, also.
ChaseDaniel Wow, unbelievable show of support! Thanks everyone...upset we didn't win though! A new season starts this next week..were in the tournament!
T_Porter22 Tough loss even though we still in the playoffs...never liked losing...but we will regroup so we can go on this run!
reggie_bush Tough loss today. Saints will bounce...watching Seattle and St. Louis game! And no I don't care who wins
scottshanle Playoffs here we go! Been fortunate enough to be in 3 of past 5 years. Time to defend our title
iWillSmith Watching this Seattle vs. St. Louis game.. waiting to see who we play next weekend. #playoffs #whodat
T_Porter22 Seattle it is....oh well!..#leegoo
JonVilma51 Looks like we're seattle bound...
reggie_bush Seattle here we come...
JeremyShockey What lies behind us & what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.. Ralph Waldo Emerson. IM BACK!!!
JonVilma51 So I tweet we're seattle bound last night and now i have seattle fans tweeting me don't talk sh**....really?!? they that sensitive?!? Smh..
dmcallister26 Good Morning twit fam. He let us see another day let's make it great
jeffduncantp Excellent insight for #Saints fans. RT @Official_Saints: Tom Hammond & Mike Mayock will call the Saints-Seahawks game for NBC.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS COACH SEAN PAYTON
"First, (I'll) congratulate Tampa. I said this to Raheem (Morris) afterwards - those guys played with real good energy and effort and did a good job today. I thought we did a lot of things that prevent you from winning games, some things we'll have to clean up if we're to have any type of success here in this second season.
"Our whole preparation was to win. There was a point where - and we had discussed this as a staff - if in the second half, that other game was out of whack, then we were going to back off and not get anybody injured. Our focus completely all week was to get our 12th win, just like we would any game.
(on how to have success in playoffs) "It's playing mistake-free football, situational football, all those things that good teams do. We're going to have to do a better job of it than we did today.
(on watching Falcons-Panthers score) "It wasn't until the second half, when we came out, it was 21-0. At that point, probably somewhere in the third quarter, we started looking at that (backing off)."
(on injuries at WR and TE) "We had some guys that had to fill in today because of injuries that - really, had this been a playoff game - we would have had to play some of the same guys we did today. Tory Humphrey got a lot of snaps. Adrian Arrington got a lot of snaps. We were nicked up going into the game at tight end. The key is getting those reps and that experience. We weren't going to sit on anybody if we felt they could play. We played everyone who was healthy enough to play.
(on momentum) "I think the term is overused. You would rather have it than not have it. There's momentum in a game. There's momentum in a season. We've got to get ready to play our best football here. We've got some work to do.
(on taking different path in playoffs) "You're going to have to handle the conditions on the road. Both road venues we're looking at next week have loud venues - (Seattle) outside and St. Louis inside."
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS PLAYERS
QB #9 Drew Brees
(on what it will take personally and as a leader on this team to try to repeat) "We have great leadership on this team, great character on this team. There are a lot of guys who were part of it last year and some guys who came in and really helped us this year, some veteran players. I think the big thing for us is that it doesn't matter what the road we travel is whether it's home field advantage last year or potentially having to travel the road the entire playoffs. Obviously it's one game at a time. You can never look past the opponent you're playing. This is single elimination now. It's all about fighting tooth and nail whatever you can do to win a game and move on to the next one."
(on expectations) "Our expectations are the exact same as when we went into the season. There's no reason why we can't go back and do this again. Has it been difficult? Absolutely. It's brought us together. I feel like we have the potential to be an even better team than last year. Last year was awesome. It was special, but I feel like this team can accomplish that same thing, but it's going to be hard. It's going to be extremely hard. We have our work cut out for us."
(on if it's tough to leave a game) "It's tough, but I understand. We had the chance to get the one seed if we won and if Atlanta lost. Going into the fourth quarter there, Atlanta was beating Carolina pretty handily. At that point, was it worth the risk of one of our key starters getting hurt in the fourth quarter of the game when our seeding is established as the fifth seed. I feel like we did the right thing, the smart thing. It's the reason why some guys didn't play today and why last year you rested guys the last game of the season because you see how you can put people in the best position to succeed in the playoffs, next week."
(on if it was tough going out after the turnover) "It's tough. I was told I was going out prior to the turnover. I wanted to go out there and try to lead the comeback. I understood the reasoning. It's all about what you do in the playoffs. This is what you play for."
(on if he throws this one out) "You don't throw it out because we made some mistakes. All mistakes are magnified once you're in the playoffs. Each mistake and turnover and down is magnified. It doesn't matter what you did in the regular season when you talk about we're going to play one of two teams we beat in the regular season. It doesn't matter. It's a new season. We're going into their place and they're division champions. We're going to need our best football to win next week."
(on if this was similar to the end of last season) "Part of it was getting some guys healthy and part of it was I think maybe the mounting pressure last year of getting to that point in the season where you hadn't lost a game, you're grinding. You take a step back and think about there's a reason why we were 13-3 and the one seed, just like this year there was a reason why we were 11-5 and one of the teams that can really make a run at it in the playoffs. Let's all take a step back and take a deep breath. Let's focus on details and little things that got us to this point. We've done a lot to get here. We've come off a championship season and come back and put ourselves in position to make a run at it. We're in the big dance and want to make the most of it."
(on if experience of last year will help) "I think that's a good part of it. Experience gives you confidence. We've traveled a road like this before. We understand what's ahead of us. Granted, going on the road in the playoffs, we've only had one road game in the playoffs in the '06 NFC Championship in Chicago, but so for this group we've never gone on the road in the first round in the playoffs, never had to. This is an opportunity for our organization to do something we haven't done before."
LB #58 Scott Shanle
(on how game plan could potentially change based on other scores) "I don't think it's difficult. We're competitors and we're not going to say that a game doesn't mean anything. It's our profession. But at the same time you're still sharpening your knife so to speak. You want to take all the proper angles, but we didn't play our best football today."
(on not playing best football today) "Anytime you look at mental mistakes you look solely at yourself. We let them get behind us on a couple of times for deep balls, the tipped ball, things you look back at and change the complexion of the game. I said before that Raheem Morris ... should be coach of the year in the league when you look at last year to this year with the same team and the injuries they've battled through. They're a good team."
(on if there is a preference between playing St. Louis or Seattle) "I have no preference. I think it's key for us that we played both teams this year. They're teams we played here, so this will be a whole new thing as far as going on the road and playing. It's an advantage anytime you've played someone before and you know them personnel-wise."
S #41 Roman Harper
(on if they were scoreboard-watching) "You have to be focused on the game you're playing and the people in front of you. We have to understand that. You have to play fast. We played solid defense. We gave up some little things here and there. The only thing to worry about is the game in front of you."
(on the difference of playing on the road this year for a playoff team) "You really can't worry about that. We're an experienced team. At the end of the day we're going to have an opportunity to compete and try to win this thing. That's all you can ask for. A lot of teams are at the house. We're not one of those teams. We have an opportunity in front of us."
G #77 Carl Nicks
(on if being Super Bowl champions gives them an edge) "At the end of the day everybody has an opinion. There are power rankings. It's 0-0. It doesn't matter what your rank was or even if you were 16-0. You just go out and try to win."
(on if the playoffs this year are a situation where you have to put your ring away and move on) "We put our rings away in week one of the preseason. It's not the same year. It's not the same guys. It's not the same team in the playoffs. It's back to work."
S #42 Darren Sharper
(on if you can earn an extra measure of respect in the playoffs) "We didn't look at it like we were disrespected and I don't know who in the locker room does. You just kind of go into a season and people have a prediction about who's going to do what. Someone is trying to look into a season and evaluate who's going to do what. But we don't look at it as disrespect. We look at it as an opportunity to showcase who we are. When a game starts, all that motivation's thrown out the window. The team that is the best is the one that takes care of the football and doesn't hurt themselves and finds ways to get the football from the opponent. Those are the ways that we got to the Super Bowl. So that's the main thing we focus on."
(on if he thought they played well on defense today) "There were a couple of runs we could have managed better. I think there were some other plays like the (fourth-down TD pass from Freeman to Williams)."
(on what he thought of the energy and emotion) "I thought it was good. In the fourth quarter we still had a shot to get back in there and come back."
RB #25 Reggie Bush
(on if this is the best he's felt since the leg injury) "I feel better. I've been feeling better for three or four weeks now. Today was a situation where I was trying to make the most of my opportunities, but more importantly, we had some mistakes we have to clean up as a team and unit, offense, special teams. If we play like that in the postseason, we're going to find ourselves going home pretty early."
(on if he feels like he can have the impact in the playoffs like with the Arizona game last year) "Yes, it's just a matter of my number getting called. This is more about how we can get better as a team. It's not one guy that's going to do it. We have to find a way to get healthy and find a way to clean up these mistakes."
(on if how worrisome it is that there are mistakes in the 16th game of the season) "Towards the end of the game we decided to take some guys out, so I think that had a little effect on the game, but in the beginning of the game we had all our starters in there. We made some mistakes. I thought our defense played pretty well. We had some mistakes on offense. They got to Drew (Brees). They got pressure on Drew. They had a key turnover on the goal line towards the end of the half. We did some stuff that we can't do in a playoff game."
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS COACH RAHEEM MORRIS
"It's definitely a feel good story to come in and get the 10th win. This young football team is getting better and getting hungry. (They're) playing together and fighting through adversity against a tough Saints team."
(on playoffs) "It's not about us right now. We did our part. That's what we're supposed to do....to go out and win games. Then you sit around and wait."
(on TD pass to Mike Williams in third quarter) "There are two options. He (Josh Freeman) can take the sneak and then throw it to (Kellen) Winslow. (The other option) was to turn around and scramble, create more time, and get it out to Mike Williams."
(on going for it on fourth down on that play) "You have to make big-time decisions in big-time games. You learn lessons every week. Every game there are different decisions and different choices."
(on playing hard throughout the entire game) "You've always got something to lose. That's the beauty of the NFL. Every week, the game counts. Every week is a meaningful game. Especially when you play in a meaningful situation like we definitely were the whole season. That's what we want to play for. This team has just begun dealing with the longetivity of winning."
(on where this team is if they don't make the playoffs) "If we don't play another game, then we're in the same spot. We've got to go back in the offseason and get ready to go. (We're) building these young guys and let these guys come back and compete. (They can) come back hungrier and find a way to win more games and find a way to get in the playoffs. That's the only thing that we play for."
(on if they don't make the playoffs after winning 10 games: "That's just the way it goes. That's the NFL. It's a beautiful game. This is what we do. This is why we do it. If we don't get in, we come and get prepared and get ready for our next season. Whatever is going to happen, we've got to get ready to go play football."
(on the play of his young team this season) "These young guys are stepping up...They come out and put a helmet on and they buy into the system. You put them in that room and start coaching. They get out there on the field and they play fast and they play hard. They play together and they play consistent...They're playing for each other. You've got to give them that."
(on play of LeGarrette Blount this season) "He's aggressive. The young man bounced back from a tough collegiate ending. To come here and get 1,000 yards after being cut (is an accomplishment). To come to the Buccaneers and be one of our featured running backs...you can't say enough good things about him. You can't say enough good things about his behavior and for what he's done for us. It's a beautiful thing. I'm just so happy for those guys who work so hard to accomplish their goals and get that 10th win. I feel good for those guys."
(on the Saints and Sean Payton's play calling) "They were playing to win. I think they looked up and saw that we were up by 10 and seeing the 31-6 (Atlanta score) and decided to pull some of the guns off. It certainly didn't feel like that throughout the game. We haven't stopped them on an opening drive yet. I still haven't. He's unbelievable. He's one of the best first 15 (play) guys in the business. We better find a way to catch up."
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS PLAYERS
QB #5 Josh Freeman
(on 4th down play for TD to Mike Williams) "When the call came in, I said we should do this right now. In that situation a field goal doesn't do that much since we all knew it was going to be a one possession game. So, it being 4th and 1, we said hey, let's go for it and try and win this game. So when we got in that situation, I knew exactly what they (the coaches) were going to call."
(on playoff chances) "Whatever happens, we have to look at it like we did it to ourselves. We all will look back and said, ‘we should have won that game.' And even our coach had a goal of us getting to ten wins, but we had to win a lot in the last month to get there. So if we don't get in, we have to start next season with us being in the driver's seat right at the beginning. But getting to 10 wins like we did is a great accomplishment and is something we can build upon for next year."
WR #19 Mike Williams
"We know we need a lot of help to get into the playoffs. And the only thing we could control was coming here and getting a win. So to do it at the Saints home is a big deal for us."
(on TD reception) "I said to myself, wherever the safety is going to be, he (Josh Freeman) was going to throw it to me in the opposite direction. And it ended up being one-on-one there in the end zone. When he threw it, I said to myself it's either going to be a touchdown or interference. The defender wasn't even looking at the ball. So I battled, make a play and scored an important touchdown."
RB #27 LeGarrette Blount
"It feels great. I know I didn't get any long runs today, but to get over 1,000 yards for the season says a lot. It says a lot about our offensive line and how we were committed to the run the entire season."
WR #81 Michael Spurlock
"It's been like that the entire season. I mean one guy goes down and the next guy needs to step up. And that's how we got our 10th victory today.
"Now I'm not saying that we, as a team, have made a lot of strides. Not yet. So if we do not make the playoffs, that's what will be disappointing. And then we will all look back at the season and say we should have made this play and we should have done that to win even more games."
"When you look at our division, it says a lot that three teams have more than ten wins. Usually in the NFC South, you have one dominant team - but not this year. It says a lot about our conference and our division."
From the Saints Sideline
New Orleans Saints end regular season on sour note | NOLA.com
James Varney - Fifth-seeded team now looks to trip to Seattle.
Saints settle for wild card | 2theadvocate.com
Young Tampa Bay Buccaneers make big strides | NOLA.com
Nakia Hogan - QB Josh Freeman leads the way.
Drew Brees sets, loses NFL record in New Orleans Saints' loss | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett - Peyton Manning surpasses him with 450 completions.
Three New Orleans Saints players hobbled in loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett - Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Ivory, Jimmy Graham leave game.
Limping in | 2theadvocate.com
Les East - Injuries mount as Saints fall to Bucs
Payton mum on Saints injuries | wwltv.com | Eye on Black and Gold
Saints Notebook for Jan. 3, 2011 | 2theadvocate.com
Sheldon Mickles and Les East - Brees' stats of historic proportions.
Recapping the New Orleans Saints' loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett - How the Bucs won the game.
From the Crow's Nest
Big-time gamble on 4th down pays off big | tbo.com
Anwar S. Richardson - The decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 resulted in a touchdown pass from Josh Freeman to Mike Williams.
Three rookies come through like veterans for Bucs | tbo.com
Roy Cummings - Dezmon Briscoe, Larry Asante and Preston Parker all had key contributions to the Bucs' win over New Orleans.
Bucs Notebook: Defense closes season with signature effort | tbo.com
Anwar S. Richardson - The Buccaneers' defense did not breathe a sigh of relief Sunday when the Saints pulled QB Drew Brees with more than 10 minutes left in the game.
Bucs march past Saints but still miss playoffs | tbo.com
Roy Cummings - Tampa Tribune - Tampa Bay completed the 'Race to 10' by beating the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints 23-13.
Bucs lost out on playoffs but found so much more | tbo.com
It's impossible to judge this season as anything but success on a large scale, writes Joe Henderson.
Bucs just short of playoff berth - NFC South Blog - ESPN.com
Pat Y. - As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers left the Superdome a few hours ago, they remained in the playoff picture.
Seattle, Here We Come!!
New Orleans Saints confident they can win on the road | NOLA.com
John DeShazier - Franchise has never won a road playoff game.
Don't laugh: Seattle takes losing record into playoffs | wwltv.com | Eye on Black and Gold
Tim Booth (AP) - Laugh all you want, the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks are going to the playoffs as champions of the NFC West.
New Orleans Saints will play Seattle Seahawks on Saturday afternoon | NOLA.com
Staff report - Jets-Colts will play in prime time.
Saints prepare to go on road for playoffs | 2theadvocate.com
Challenging situations nothing new for New Orleans Saints | NOLA.com
Peter Finney - Defending champions know road ahead will be tough.
V-Roll Roll Call
Postgame Vlog: Saints finish regular season, face playoff 'road' | neworleans.com
Brian Allee-Walsh and Les East recap the Saints loss to the Bucs and take a look ahead to the playoff 'road' to a potential Who Dat repeat title.
Video - Saints press conference | neworleanssaints.com
Saints react following game with Buccaneers. Gallery includes game and individual play highlights.