The Buccaneers were big underdogs in this weeks game against the New Orleans Saints. Most, if not all NFL analysts had picked the Saints to win and for good reason. The Saints are a different team at home and they were one of the best teams last season and the Bucs well, were the Bucs. The Buccaneers however, proved them all wrong by putting on an offensive show that led to the Bucs beating the Saints 48-40. This game was pretty fun to watch, unless you are a defensive coordinator. Is Fitzmagic a real thing? The answer on Sunday was yes.
How they started
Well, based on the Saints opening drive, many fans probably thought the Bucs were gonna get smoked. The Saints drove down the field with ease, hitting open receiver after open receiver. The Saints then scored a touchdown off of a Alvin Kamara 5 yard run and just like that, the Bucs were down 7-0. Then the Bucs got the ball and on came Ryan Fitzpatrick, it was not announced before the game, but offensive coordinator Todd Monken was calling plays for the offense and did a masterful job. The first evidence of this is when Fitzpatrick hit Desean Jackson deep for a 58 yard touchdown. After a Chandler Catanzaro field goal, the score was 7-7. The Saints then drove down but the Bucs defense held them to a field goal. The Bucs drove down the field AGAIN and it ended with Ryan Fitzpatrick lowering the shoulder and getting into the endzone to make the score 14-10 in favor of the good guys. Then the Bucs defense came on the field and could not stop a nosebleed. Drew Brees hit Tedd Ginn in the endzone for a 28 yard touchdown and that gave the Saints the lead early into the second quarter. The Bucs then got the ball a few penalties and missed opportunities, had to settle for a field goal. The game was tied at 17 mid way through the 2nd quarter. The Bucs finally forced the Saints to punt, that was the first punt of the game and it was mid 2nd quarter…. The Bucs drove down the field and ended the great drive with a Fitzpatrick touchdown to Chris Godwin. The Bucs gave the ball back to the Saints and just like that, the Bucs were back in the endzone after Mike Gillislee fumbled the ball and Justin Evans recovered and ran it in for the touchdown. The Bucs now were up 31-17 all of the sudden and fans were rejoicing. The Saints rebounded by scoring a touchdown on the next drive.
At the half
I don’t think anybody expected the Buccaneers to have 31 points in the game, let alone at HALFTIME. That tied a franchise record for most points scored in a half for the Buccaneers. Todd Monken did a great job of balancing out the attack. Fitzpatrick looked very comfortable. Also, how about the performance of this offensive line? They did a great job of protecting Fitzpatrick and created many holes for Peyton Barber to run through. The defense, however was a different story. The Bucs were able to hold the Saints in check in the running game but struggled to stop them in the passing game. Drew Brees and co picked apart the Bucs secondary. Tampa Bay has to do a better job in pass coverage or it could be a long season for this defense. Overall it was a decent 1st half, but would the Bucs be able to keep it up?
How they finished
The 2nd half for the Buccaneers has always been their down fall. In these types of games, you would normally expect the lead to evaporate quickly but not this time. The Bucs got the ball to start the half and had a drive that ended in a field goal. The defense was then able to stop the Saints and they were forced to punt it away again. The Bucs were then forced to punt themselves. That was their first punt of the game and it was mid way through the 3rd quarter. That is how good the offense played in this game. The Saints would then punt again and at this point, the Buccaneers had control of the game. The Bucs next drive came down to a critical 3rd and 6 play at the 50 yard line. Fitzpatrick went for the deep shot and he found Mike Evans streaking down the sideline for a 50 yard touchdown. At the point, the Bucs were up multiple scores, but how was this defense gonna respond? The Saints drove down pretty easily, but then Mike Thomas caught a ball and started to run but fumbled the football and it was recovered by Ryan Smith, big turnover for the Tampa Bay defense. The Bucs took advantage of the short field as Fitzpatrick hit Desean Jackson for a 36 yard touchdown, Jackson’s 2nd of the day. The game was looking like it was gonna get out of reach for Drew Brees and the Saints, but it is after all, Drew Brees and he led the Saints on an easy touchdown drive to cut the Bucs lead. It was now 48-32 and things were getting close in the big easy. The Bucs then had the golden opportunity to seal the game after a deep pass to Jackson. Chandler Catanzaro missed the 44 yard field goal that would have iced the game wide right. Not only did that not ice the game, but it also gave the Saints a short field and they took advantage of it, scoring another easy touchdown. After they had been successful on the 2 point conversion, the Bucs lead was cut down to 8. The Bucs got the ball and faced a crucial 3rd and 11 with 2:45 left to play. Were the Buccaneers actually gonna blow this game? Fitzpatrick had other ideas. He rolled out and scrambled for a 12 yard gain that would give the Bucs a 1st down. Fitzpatrick took a knee 3 times and that was all she wrote. The Buccaneers had shocked the world and beaten a team that nobody thought they would.
It is concerning that the defense struggled so much but a W is a W. The offense has not looked this good in a long time. Everything on the offensive side of the ball flowed really well. The Bucs face a huge challenge next week as the super bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles come to town. Will the Buccaneers be able to keep up this offensive performance? A big factor in that game could be health, Eagles QB Carson Wentz is not expected to play, the Bucs are hoping that injuries to Vernon Hargreaves and Desean Jackson are not serious. For this week though, Fitzmagic was in the air, could you feel it? The Saints sure could.