TAMPA, Fla. – Sport of the Week?
It was extra just like the Assertion of the Week because the New Orleans Saints got here to Raymond James Stadium and primarily planted their flag with a 38-3 rout.
For the entire elevated expectations that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can change into a authentic Tremendous Bowl contender with Tom Brady and his high-profile supporting forged, the Saints served a reminder that they nonetheless rule the NFC South.
In different phrases, first issues first.
The Saints (6-2), aiming for a fourth consecutive division crown, swept the season collection in opposition to the Bucs (6-3) for the second 12 months in a row in essentially the most convincing style of all.
It was a laugher. The Saints scored three touchdowns earlier than the Bucs even managed a primary down. Brady suffered essentially the most lopsided defeat of his profession — the earlier being a 31-0 loss to the Buffalo Payments in 2003 — and, with three interceptions and no touchdowns, had one among his worst all-time performances. Previous to Sunday, the quarterback had by no means been swept by a divisional opponent, both.
And all of these Bucs weapons?
Effectively, it was an array of Saints gamers who left a mark in rolling up 420 yards.
Drew Brees threw 4 TD passes – to 4 completely different targets.
And Brees additionally handed Brady once more throughout their see-saw trade of the all-time TD document. The up to date tally: Brees 564. Brady, caught on 561.
Three different issues we realized from the Saints smashing of the Bucs:
1. Michael Thomas’ return doesn’t disrupt the increasing Saints offense — In setting an NFL single-season document final 12 months with 149 receptions, the star receiver caught 35.6% of the Saints’ completions. Whereas he was away for six video games with excessive ankle and hamstring accidents, there was some blessing as disguise as Sean Payton and Co. have been compelled to develop the passing sport roles.
This confirmed early on Sunday evening as seven completely different skill-position gamers (together with Thomas) contributed yards from scrimmage on the opening scoring drive (9 performs, 65 yards) and an eighth, Taysom Hill, had the longest completion with a 19-yard hookup to Jared Prepare dinner. Thomas was largely efficient in his first sport again (5 catches, 51 yards) however the truth that he logged 17.2% of the receptions whereas Prepare dinner, Hill, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Josh Hill, Adam Trautman and Marquez Callaway all contributed key catches illustrated simply how versatile the Saints offense has change into.
2. Antonio Brown’s influence didn’t match the hype — At the least not but. It’s fairly obvious that the Bucs’ shiny new receiver isn’t the lacking hyperlink to a Tremendous Bowl ticket. Brown had an honest debut, however questions of how he’ll match into the offense will linger when contemplating that Mike Evans didn’t log his first reception (on his first goal) till the ultimate minute of the primary half. And there are nonetheless some kinks. On Brady’s second interception (one play after Evans’ first catch), Brown appeared to gradual up a bit on the route because the throw sailed a number of yards deeper. However Brown was hardly the one one with zig vs. zag points in connecting with Brady. Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller pulled go routes within the first half that turned out to return nowhere near completions.
3. The Saints’ protection is able to setting a tone — Brady was hit on the primary snap of the sport as Cameron Jordan barreled across the nook to power a pop-up incompletion. What an omen. The Saints’ oft-overshadowed protection compelled three-and-outs on Tampa Bay’s first 4 possessions. Then it was a decide, a turnover on downs and one other interception. And that was simply the primary half. A goal-line stand, one other decide and a group of sacks got here later.