Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It’s heartbreak city again for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A game-winning field goal by Dylan Hartley as time expired sent the Bucs to their second straight loss as the New Orleans Saints escaped from Raymond James Stadium with a 16-14 win.
The Bucs had a chance to ice the game moments before. Ryan Lindell missed a 47 yard field goal with 1:10 left that would have pushed the Bucs lead to four, meaning Drew Brees and company would have needed a touchdown to win the game.
But Lindell pushed his kick far right and Brees passed for 54 yards in three plays to set up Hartley’s 27 yard winner.
A one hour, nine minute lightning delay less than five minutes into the game didn’t seem to affect either team. The Bucs were down 3-0 at the delay but took a 7-3 lead after Josh Freeman connected with Kevin Ogletree for a five yard score. The touchdown had been set up by a Dekoda Watson interception.
The Saints went ahead 10-7 on a 56 yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham on a busted coverage by the Bucs secondary, but the Bucs defense then began to show what they were really made of.
The Saints kicked a field goal at the end of the first half to make it 13-7, but Leonard Johnson was called offside. Sean Payton decided to go for it on fourth down rather than keep the points, but Mark Ingram was stuffed at the goal line by Mason Foster and Lavonte David.
Sep 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers middle linebacker Mason Foster (59) runs onto the field before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
The second half was all about the Bucs defense and it was highlighted no more than a spectacular interception return by Foster. He picked Brees off in the red zone and rumbled 85 yards for a touchdown on one of the most memorable plays in Bucs history.
The score gave the Bucs a 14-13 lead, before Hartley soured the already damp crowd some more with the game winning field goal.
Mark Barron was everywhere for the Bucs, recording 13 tackles, half a sack, and broke up a pass. He was truly phenomenal for the Bucs and he wasn’t alone.
Darrelle Revis shut down the Saints elite receivers all day and showed he wasn’t only good in coverage as he got up on the line of scrimmage regularly and recorded four tackles.
Gerald McCoy also had himself a big day, as he recorded a sack and two tackles, but he was a disruptive force in the Saints backfield all day long despite playing through injuries all game long.
David had 1.5 sacks and hit Brees three times while making key tackles throughout.
Freeman was inconsistent again on offense, as he only completed 9 of his 22 pass attempts for 125 yards with a touchdown and interception.
While the Bucs defense was brilliant again, they still gave up far too many penalties, many of which came on personal fouls. Dashon Goldson continued his assault from last week as he picked up another personal foul but the biggest hit came from Ahmad Black who lit up Graham on a pass over the middle.
The mental mistakes also carried over from last week’s game and were highlighted immensely when a 73 yard touchdown pass to Jackson was brought back due to an illegal formation penalty on Mike Williams midway through the third quarter.