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Saints Continue Hot Stretch, Defeat Buccaneers 31-24

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Teddy Bridgewater played his best game as a Saint in 31-24 win against the Bucs

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

In the past two weeks, the New Orleans Saints have shown that they are more than just a one-man show. After starting quarterback Drew Brees injured his thumb in week two against the Los Angeles Rams, the Saints have rallied around backup Teddy Bridgewater and have won two games in a row, on the road in Seattle and at home against the Dallas Cowboys.

On Sunday afternoon, the Saints were playing their first division game of their 2019 campaign against the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were coming off a 55-point outburst in a win over the Rams in Los Angeles.

In the first half, the Saints started opening up the offense, trying to exploit a weak Buccaneers secondary, with Bridgewater finally throwing the ball downfield instead of just dinking and dunking his way to a field goal. The Saints’ defense also picked up where it left off against the Cowboys last Sunday night, forcing Tampa Bay into punts early and often, limiting Tampa to just five first downs in the half and an 0-for-4 mark on third down.

Despite an early interception that led to the Bucs’ only touchdown of the half, Bridgewater would steady the ship and find Michael Thomas and then Jared Cook for touchdowns. At halftime, the Saints’ signal-caller would turn in a stat line that read: 15-of-18 for 160 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints would go into the half leading 17-10.

In the second half, the Saints offense would continue being efficient, as New Orleans would take its opening drive of the half 75 yards for a touchdown, this time from Bridgewater to Ted Ginn Jr. Trailing 24-10, the Buccaneers would respond, going on a 75-yard drive that took 8 minutes and 41 seconds and was capped by a Peyton Barber two-yard run into the end zone, trimming the Saints’ lead to seven at 24-17.

Following an exchange of short possessions and punts, the Saints’ offense would resurface once again, with Teddy Bridgewater playing his best game to date as the Saints’ starting quarterback and finding wide receiver Michael Thomas once again for a touchdown, restoring the Saints’ 14-point advantage at 31-17.

On the ensuing Bucs possession, the Saints would assert the burgeoning dominance of their defensive line, sacking Jameis Winston three times on the same drive and forcing Tampa Bay to punt the ball back to the Saints. New Orleans would then take the ball and run the clock down to one minute before relinquishing it to the Bucs. Tampa Bay, without a timeout, would only be able to muster a garbage time touchdown to bring the Bucs within seven points at 31-24. That would be the final margin of the game, as the Saints move to 4-1, while Tampa Bay falls to 2-3.

New Orleans is now 3-0 without Drew Brees in what can be arguably described as Sean Payton’s best coaching work in his New Orleans tenure.

———

Here is how the game unfolded

FIRST HALF

First Quarter

  • Bucs win the toss and take the ball, starting at their 25-yard line. Jameis Winston is picked off by Marcus Williams, but the Bucs had had a delay of game, nullifying the interception. The Bucs eventually stall at their 47-yard line and punt.
  • Saints fair-catch the punt at their 14-yard line. Bridgewater moves the Saints near midfield on passes to Michael Thomas and Jared Cook. Saints eventually stall on a dropped pass by Jared Cook, and have to punt. Cook continues his inconsistent debut in New Orleans.
  • Bucs take over at their 21-yard line. Tampa goes three-and-out and has to punt for the second consecutive possession.
  • Deonte Harris fumbles the punt but recovers and Saints take over at their own 36-yard line. On the first play, Bridgewater find Michael Thomas for a 34-yard gain into Bucs territory. Saints face a 4th-and-1 at the Bucs’ 21-yard line and Alvin Kamara converts into the Bucs’ red zone. Bridgewater misses Jared Cook on 3rd-and-6 from the Bucs’ 12-yard line and Saints settle for a Wil Lutz 29-yard field goal.
  • NO: 3 - TB: 0
  • Bucs return a short kickoff to their 25-yard line. Bucs once again go three-and-out on an incomplete pass from Jameis Winston to Mike Evans.
  • On the punt, Deonte Harris fumbles and the Bucs recover in the Saints’ red zone. Harris is a weapon in the return game, but at this point clearly has fumbling issues. However, on the review, the referees rule that there is no clear recovery and the Saints keep the ball. Saints take over at their 22-yard line. On third down, Teddy Bridgewater throws an interception on a pass that bounced off Alvin Kamara’s hands.
  • Bucs take over at the Saints’ 20-yard line and after getting sacked on first down, Jameis Winston finds Chris Godwin for a touchdown.
  • NO: 3 - TB: 7
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line and start with a good run by Latavius Murray as the quarter ends.

Second Quarter

  • Saints get into Bucs territory on a beautiful throw by Bridgewater to Michael Thomas. On the next play, Taysom Hill finds Michael Thomas for an 18-yard gain to the Bucs’ 24-yard line. Saints get into the red zone. Bridgewater finds Michael Thomas for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The first touchdown in the Saints’ last 14 possessions.
  • NO: 10 - TB: 7
  • Bucs take over at their 25-yard line. Tampa gets into Saints territory on run and pass plays by Ronald Jones. At the Saints’ 29-yard line, Marcus Davenport records his first sack and forced fumble of the year, however the Bucs recover Winston’s fumble. Bucs kicker Matt Gay makes a 42-yard field goal.
  • NO: 10 - TB: 10
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line after a touchback on the kickoff. A holding penalty on Jared Cook sets the Saints back. This was the first penalty on the Saints on the day. On the next play, an unnecessary roughing-the-passer call on Carlton Davis III of the Bucs gets the Saints out of a hole. On the play, Carlton Davis is ejected for the helmet-to-helmet hit on Jared Cook. Bridgewater finds Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara to get into Bucs’ territory. Saints are driving as the two-minute warning hits. Bridgewater finds Josh Hill to the Bucs’ 10-yard line. On second-and-goal, Bridgewater finds Jared Cook for a touchdown, Cook’s first in a Saints’ uniform.
  • NO: 17 - TB: 10
  • Bucs take over at their 25-yard line with 32 seconds left in the half. After one run play, Tampa Bay lets the clock run out and goes into halftime trailing by seven to the Saints.

SECOND HALF

Third Quarter

  • Saints start at their 25-yard line after the touchback on the Bucs’ kickoff. On the first play, Bridgewater finds Michael Thomas down to the Bucs’ 35-yard line. Tampa Bay challenges the call, but the call is upheld. Two plays later, Bridgewater finds Ted Ginn Jr. for a 33-yard touchdown.
  • NO: 24 - TB: 10
  • Bucs take over at their 25-yard line after the touchback. On the fourth play of the drive, Jameis Winston is intercepted by Eli Apple, but a penalty on Marshon Lattimore bails the Bucs out. Winston gets the Bucs into Saints’ territory on clutch throws and runs. On 4th-and-1 from the Saints’ 38-yard line, the Bucs convert to keep their drive alive. Bucs get into Saints’ red zone behind the feet and arm of Winston. On third-and-goal from the Saints’ two-yard line, Peyton Barber runs into the end zone for a touchdown in a drive that took 8 minutes and 41 seconds.
  • NO: 24 - TB: 17
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line, but go four-and-out and have to punt.
  • Buccaneers take over with good field position at their 35-yard line. Bucs go three-and-out after a false start penalty sets them back and punt the ball away.
  • Saints are backed up to their 9-yard line. Saints elect to throw three times in a row and on third down, Bridgewater finds Michael Thomas to get the Saints out of the shadow of their end zone. Saints are faced with a third-and-3 at their 36-yard line as the quarter ends.

Fourth Quarter

  • Saints convert the third down and keep their drive alive. On 3rd-and-one from their own 47-yard line on the next series, the Saints get into Bucs territory on a trick-play pass by Kamara to Josh Hill. Bridgewater finds Kamara into the red zone and then finds Michael Thomas for a touchdown. This was Bridgewater’s fourth touchdown pass of the game.
  • NO: 31 - TB: 17
  • Bucs take over at their 33-yard line. On the first play, Marcus Davenport records his second sack of the afternoon and of the year. Bucs go three-and-out thanks to the sack and punt the ball back to the Saints.
  • Saints take over at their 30-yard line but go three-and-out with Sean Payton getting cute and throwing the ball. Saints punt.
  • Bucs fair-catch at their 20-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Jameis Winston is sacked by Sheldon Rankins, the big man’s first of the year. Winston gets the Bucs out of jail with a nice throw to Chris Godwin. Two plays plater, Carl Granderson sacks Jameis Winston. On the very next play, Cam Jordan joins the dance and sacks Winston again, forcing the Bucs to punt.
  • Saints take over at their 35-yard line with 5:14 left on the clock. Alvin Kamara records his longest run of the game, a 16-yard scamper into Bucs territory. On third-and-6 from the Bucs 41-yard line, Bridgewater finds Jared Cook for a first down to keep the drive alive and the clock running. At the two-minute warning, the Saints face a third-and-6 at the Bucs 25-yard line. Saints eventually stall at the Bucs 22-yard line. Saints decide to go for it and burn more clock, they do not get the first down, with 1:10 left on the clock.
  • Bucs take over at their 22-yard line and drive into Saints territory. With 13 seconds left, Jameis Winston finds Chris Godwin for a touchdown, with some ridiculously bad tackling from the Saints.
  • NO: 31 - TB: 24
  • The Bucs’ onside kick goes out of bounds and the Saints seal the win
  • Saints Win! Saints Win!

Poll

Who gets your game ball for the Saints today?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Teddy! Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!
    (285 votes)
  • 13%
    The defensive line. I believe they just got another sack!
    (60 votes)
  • 9%
    Marshon Lattimore: Yup, he’s baaaaaack!!!
    (40 votes)
  • 11%
    The very underrated Dennis Allen. His defense is balling!
    (50 votes)
  • 0%
    The bacon cheeseburger always gets the game ball
    (1 vote)
436 votes total Vote Now