It didn’t take long for the Bucs to look good, and they didn’t even have to get the ball first to do so. After deferring the opening kick, it took the Buccaneers under 5 minutes to intercept Ronde Barber and set up a one play, 13 yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman to Tiquan Underwood to give the Bucs an early lead.
But the success didn’t end there, as the Saints next drive saw Drew Brees and company go three-and-out and again look like a sloppy unit. New Orleans is without tight end Jimmy Graham, which really helps out the Bucs in that it takes away a massive target for Brees but we’ve seen the Saints succeed in the past without Graham.
Without Aqib Talib in the secondary the Buccaneers have been looking solid defending the pass. Not only last week against a poor Chiefs team but so far this week against a solid passing game and a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Another thing that was a mystery before the game was how big Jonathan Vilma’s return to the Saints defense would be. So far it’s been nothing more than a symbolic gesture that has nothing to do with the Buccaneers.
Doug Martin got in on the action early as well, taking a delayed handoff 36 yards to pay dirt, making Malcolm Jenkins look foolish in the process as well.
The Saints did put together a very impressive third drive of the game, one that ended in a Marques Colston touchdown, but if you were expecting the Saints to get shut out then that was just a foolish assumption.
As for the woes for the Bucs, the only real issue has been Josh Freeman’s wild throws — but what else is new? He hasn’t thrown an interception yet today, but he’s come close twice. The first time appeared to be a legitimate interception, but because the initial call on the field was an incomplete pass, video evidence couldn’t overturn the call.
But it was pretty clearly an interception.
Another pass came close to ending what ended up being a Doug Martin touchdown drive. But that didn’t happen and the Bucs have used luck and skill to take a 14-7 lead over a prolific Saints offense. This game won’t be one-sided, but it’ll be a contest the Buccaneers are very much in, and the first quarter was proof of that.