The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense tore apart the helpless New Orleans Saints in the biggest upset of Week 1.
Do you believe in “Fitzmagic”?
Behind the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers routed the New Orleans Saints, 48-40 to open the 2018 campaign.
Fitzpatrick threw for a career high in yardage (417) and added four touchdowns. He completed 75 percent of his passes and added a rushing touchdown in a career performance.
As the defense allowed Drew Brees to put together an impressive comeback effort, Fitzpatrick shut the door with a clutch scramble on a 3rd-and-11 with just over two minutes to play.
The rush ended any hopes for New Orleans and was the cherry on top of Fitzpatrick’s best game in his long career.
Mike Evans came into this matchup against the Saints with something to prove. All eyes were on the Evans-Marshon Lattimore matchup. On the day, Evans caught seven passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. Advantage, Evans.
After offensive coordinator Todd Monken showed off his playcalling prowess in the preseason, head coach Dirk Koetter allowed Monken to take the reigns. In his first game as the Buccaneers play-caller, the team matched their franchise record of 48-points in a single game.
Tampa got on the board early in the second half. Fitzpatrick continued his strong play by getting Tampa in field goal range to put the Bucs up 34-24 in the third quarter.
Coming out of the halftime break, the defense found some new life. Tampa Bay forced New Orleans to punt the ball on back-to-back drives. At the time, it felt like a minor miracle.
Fitzpatrick then hit Evans to extend the lead to 17, and the Bucs didn’t look back. Kwon Alexander forced a fumble on the ensuing Saints possession, and Jackson caught another deep ball to seal it.
The first half of the game brought much-needed hope for the Buccaneers. Fitzpatrick may have had the best half of football in his 14-year career.
He connected with DeSean Jackson on a 58-yard touchdown pass right out of the gate. He followed that up by scrambling for six. Then, hitting Chris Godwin for his second touchdown pass of the game.
Peyton Barber played a complementary role on the ground with 69 yards, but the air attack in the first half couldn’t be stopped.
As the Buccaneers offense shined, the defense fell flat on its face in the first half. Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara tore Tampa Bay apart. Thankfully, Vernon Hargreaves forced a fumble, and Justin Evans was able to pick it up for a scoop-and-score.
Aside from the turnover, the Saints scored on nearly every drive. Poor tackling from the linebackers and lackadaisical coverage from the secondary allowed the Saints to put up 24 points in just 30 minutes of play.
This was the exact start the Buccaneers needed. Tampa Bay now looks for a repeat performance against the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.