On Sunday, the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers met for the second time in 2019. The Saints won the game 34-17 to sweep the season series and to extend their NFC South division lead over the Carolina Panthers. The Saints now sit at 8-2 with a three-game lead over Carolina. The team was looking to bounce back from their blowout loss at home last week against the Atlanta Falcons.
Key New Orleans Injury
Heading into the game, they were missing star cornerback, Marshon Lattimore, who was instrumental in the first win against Tampa Bay, shutting down Mike Evans. Without Lattimore, they needed to turn to other players in their secondary to slow the Buccaneers’ passing attack.
The First Half
The New Orleans offense came out of the gate strong, moving the ball with ease on their first two drives of the game. They failed to capitalize once they got in close, having to settle for a field goal both times. The defense came up big, intercepting Jameis Winston right before the end of the first quarter. Tight end, O.J. Howard tipped a pass into the arms of linebacker Demario Davis. That led to Drew Brees locating Michael Thomas for the first touchdown of the game on the next play, giving the Saints a 13-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
After stopping the Buccaneers on their first offensive drive of the second quarter, the Saints got the ball back and marched down the field. Burning off nearly seven minutes of game clock, Drew Brees threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cook. That score extended the lead to 20-0. After getting the ball back, Jameis Winston found speedster, Scottie Miller, on a 49-yard streak pattern. That big play set the Buccaneers up for a short touchdown pass to Peyton Barber with just under three minutes left in the first half. This score closed the gap to 20-7. On the final play of the half, Jameis Winston threw a pass that was tipped and intercepted by safety Vonn Bell.
The Second Half
On the Buccaneers’ opening drive of the second half, they were able to drive the ball down into Saints territory. The drive stalled, and rookie kicker, Matt Gay, was forced to kick a 55-yard field goal. The score is now 20-10 in favor of New Orleans. After a 52 yard pass to Michael Thomas, Drew Brees found Ted Ginn for Brees’ third passing touchdown of the afternoon, giving the Saints a 27-10 lead. On their next drive, the Bucs answered with a 30-yard touchdown strike from Jameis Winston to Chris Godwin. They once again closing the gap to 27-17.
The two teams traded punts to open the fourth quarter. On a fourth and ten play from their own 33-yard line, Jameis Winston overthrew his receiver, and Marcus Williams intercepted it. He then returned it 55-yards for a touchdown, making it 34-17 with just over five minutes left. This score pushed the game out of reach for the Buccaneers. After quickly driving all the way down to the one-yard line of New Orleans, Jameis Winston was intercepted for the fourth time of the day by P.J. Williams.
Drew Brees finished the day 28 for 35 with 228 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Alvin Kamara recorded ten catches for 47 yards. He also ran for 75 yards on 13 carries against the NFL’s leader in run defense. Michael Thomas caught eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. The defense sacked Jameis Winston twice and forced him to throw four interceptions.
Fourth-year wide receiver, Michael Thomas continues to break records. With his fourth catch of the afternoon, he became the first player in NFL history with at least 90 catches in each of his first four seasons. With 94 catches, Thomas now holds the record for most single-season receptions for any player through ten games. The previous record was 89, held by Marvin Harrison and Julio Jones.
The Saints will now head into a Week 12 matchup at home against the Carolina Panthers. They will be looking to win their ninth game of the season. That would extend their division lead to four games as they aim to clinch a playoff berth.
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