Defensive Breakdown: The Saints

The Bucs beat a rival and currently lead the NFC South!
The Bucs beat a rival and currently lead the NFC South! /
The Bucs beat a rival and currently lead the NFC South!
The Bucs beat a rival and currently lead the NFC South! /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rendered us all speechless with a spectacular performance against one of the best offenses in the league.  I, among many other writers, was certain that the Buccaneers would lose, and at best make it a close game.  Instead, they ended the first half with a 20-10 point lead, and finished the game with four turnovers!  Three of those turnovers came as gift wrapped interceptions which kept putting the Bucs back in position to maintain a solid lead and control the clock.

What may have been the biggest and most talked about concern heading into this game was the absence of Legarrette Blount and Gerald McCoy.  What caught me by surprise is the lack of mention of the return of Quincy Black and sorely missed, Tenard Jackson.  Both athletes were huge contributors to the Buccaneer’s victory.  With less than five minutes left in the first half, Tenard Jackson had a huge interception that gave Josh Freeman the ball at the 25 yard line.  Josh Freeman then connected with Preston Parker for a 19 yard touchdown pass.  Jacksonwas very productive and showed no signs of being off the field for over a year.  During the Saint’s final drive and attempt at a touchdown on 4th and 2 at the 4 yard line, Quincy Black intercepted a pass that would have given the Saints their first lead in the game.

Since when do coaches get injured?
Since when do coaches get injured? /

Bizarre Injuries!!!

Who would have thought that two coaches would not only be injured during this game, but both would need surgery?!  Only four minutes into the game and on the Saint’s 3rd offensive play of the entire game, tight end, Jimmy Graham, ran out of bounds and into his head coach.  Coach Sean Payton kept a pretty good poker face for the remainder of the first half, but later was said to have torn his MCL and will need surgery.

On the previously mentioned interception by Tenard Jackson in the 2nd quarter, Defensive Backs Coach,JimmyLake, may have gotten a bit too excited and somehow celebrated his way to a torn patella.  Ronde Barber took his place in aiding Coach Morris in relaying the defensive play calling to the defensive backs unit.

Center, Jeff Faine, also sustained an injury to his bicep and was unable to return to the field afterwards.  However, it looked like the Center was more fortunate than the two coaches in terms of injury.

Four Turnovers

Aside of the two interceptions previously mentioned, the Buccaneers managed to have two other turnovers that kept the Saint’s explosive offense off balance.  While the Saint’s were trying to end the first half on a high note, Brees threw a pass to Colston which was intercepted by E.j. Biggers.  This turnover was so important because Brees walked down the field on his following drive and managed to add 3 points to the score board before the first half ended.  Imagine if the Saints could have scored on both drives.  This game could have ended very differently.

The Buccaneers also had one take away on the ground when Geno Hayes popped out the ball from Pierre Thomas’s grasp and Da’Quan Bowers recovered the fumble, giving the Bucs the ball at the 33 yard line.  This also took place just two plays after Coach Sean Payton sustained his knee injury.  This was the first thing to really give the Buccaneers their momentum, and allowed the Buccaneers to start the game with an easy three point lead.

The Ground Has Been Shut Down

Although Brees put up huge numbers again recording 29/45 for 383 yards and 1 TD, the turnovers and lack of production from the running backs made it too difficult to defeat the youngry Buccaneers.  Brees has become the first quarterback in Saint’s history to pass for over 350 yards in 4 straight games, and deserves to be acknowledged for that, even by his rivals.  Unfortunately for the Saint’s, not only was there four turnovers and an injured head coach, but the Buccaneers held the Saints to only 70 yards on the ground.  The defensive line failed to record a sack, but was consistent in pressuring Brees and keeping the running game unproductive.

Bucs D Top 3

Traditionally, I like to name my top three for the defense in each game, but this week I will prefer to name the entire defense as a unit to be my top performers.  I thought that the defense played very well with Ternard Jackson and Quincy Black thrown into the mix, and Da’Quan Bowers taking some reps at defensive tackle.  Foster appeared to play pretty well considering he almost didn’t start today.   E.j. Biggers didn’t give up any touchdowns and recorded his first interception of the season.  The defense kept feeding the offense opportunities, which is its primary purpose, aside of stopping the opposition.  I’m really happy that the Buccaneers proved my game predictions wrong and hope they not only shock the doubters, but shock the world next week in theirLondongame against the Bears.

I think the biggest highlight of the game wasn’t anything actually seen in the game.  It was something we earned by winning this game.  The Buccaneers now lead their division and will have to work hard to hold on to that lead.  The Saints will host the Buccaneers in a rematch after the Bucs play the Bears inLondonand take a bye week.