After Further Review: Five takes from Saints loss to Bucs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes in the first half of an NFL football...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in Tampa, Fla., Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)(Mark LoMoglio | AP)
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 2:05 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Tampa Bay meltdown

It should have been the next example of the Saints recent dominance over Tom Brady.

Instead, it ended up the latest chapter in the GOATs greatness.

Or maybe it was another example of the Saints remarkable ability to find ways to lose.

Does it really matter? The result is all the same.

This team lost a game they were in control of most of the night. The stunning mental lapses and ridiculous lack of consistency showed up again. Now the Saints are now 4-9 with their playoff hopes all but gone.

Take Two: Where the game unraveled

Raymond James Stadium was in a complete state of disgust most of the night. They booed the Bucs multiple times for their ineptitude. When Todd Bowles elected to punt down 13 points midway through the fourth, there were quite a few expletives hurled at him from the Tampa Bay crowd. That’s how bad things had gotten.

For 54:29, the Saints were the clear cut better team. Then at the 5:31 mark of the 4th quarter, up 16-3, everything unraveled.

Blake Gillikin boomed a beauty of a punt to the Bucs 9-yard line. Then Brady went to work and proceeded to go 91 yards on ten plays in 2:21 to score to cut the lead to, 16-10. Brady went 7/10 on the drive and was aided by a Saints pass interference penalty that put the Bucs at the one-yard line.

On the ensuing drive the Saints went an ugly three-and-out that included a second down sack where the offense tried to pass the ball despite not having a starting wide receiver on the field. They punted the ball back with 2:29 left.

For Brady, that was an eternity. He was able to move at a smooth, urgent, yet not frantic, pace downfield. He went 8/10 and even had a touchdown pass called back due to a holding penalty.

It didn’t matter.

On the final play of the drive Brady found Rachaad White underneath. When White worked his way into the end zone, there was :03 left on the clock. When the extra point connected, the Saints were somehow down, 17-16.

In a span of 5:31, a dominating effort collapsed right in front of their eyes.

Take Three: Missed opportunities

Let us count the multiple opportunities the Saints had to close the door on this game.

2nd quarter- Andy Dalton threw a dime to Chris Olave on a corner route on 3rd & 8. Olave took his eyes off it too soon and dropped the pass. A connection there would have put the Saints near the red zone. Dennis Allen chose to punt the ball on fourth down instead of trying a 55-yard field goal.

2nd quarter- Just a few plays after the Saints first takeaway in an eternity, the offense faced a 3rd & 2 from the Bucs’ 19. Dalton delivered a strike to Jarvis Landry, but Landry attempted to haul the pass in with one hand and couldn’t. The Saints had to settle for three to make it, 10-3. A touchdown there would have been a dagger to the Bucs, as the Saints got the ball back to start the second half.

3rd quarter- The Saints defense forced another takeaway, and the offense went right to work. They faced a 3rd & 2 from the 3-yard line. Somehow they let 12 men enter the huddle resulting in a massive penalty. It moved them back to 3rd & 7 which they were unable to convert. Instead of a touchdown off a turnover, they settled for another field goal.

4th quarter- On 2nd & 8 near midfield, Dalton found Mark Ingram in the flat, who had a clear path to a first down until he inexplicably stepped out of bounds a yard short of the marker. Not only did he not convert, he stopped the clock. On the next play, they threw an incompletion on 3rd & 1 which stopped the clock again. A conversion would have extended the drive. Staying in bounds would have burned more clock. As we saw, every second of the final part of the fourth quarter mattered. After the game, Ingram tweeted an apology.

Had just one of those plays connected, the Saints would have won the game handily. Instead, they missed out on the multiple chances to close the door shut on the Bucs.

Take Four: Dalton Deals

Dalton played well enough to win Monday night. He displayed great field vision, read the defense and dropped some absolute dimes throughout the game.

He finished 20/28 with 229 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was impressive as Dalton originally wanted a double move to his right then came all the way back to his left to find Taysom Hill all alone in the end zone. His stat line would have been more impressive had there not been some of the drops described above. His third down throw to Hill on the Saints final offensive drive was even well-placed. The defender just lodged it loose as Hill went to the ground.

All in all, Dalton had a great day, but like the rest of the team, couldn’t finish it out when they had the opportunity to do so.

Take Five: Other Observations

  • What a find Rashid Shaheed has become. All the kid does is make plays. He caught a bomb early in the game from Dalton. On a seperate third down, he broke off his dig route and cut back to the outside when he saw Dalton flush the pocket. Dalton found him for a first down. Shaheed also gave them some great field position in the return game.
  • The Saints defense has allowed 30 points in two games and somehow lost both of them. That side of the ball was magnificent until their final two drives of the game.
  • Tough pill to swallow to finally win the turnover battle and lose the game.
  • DeMario Davis fooled Brady on his interception. Brady thought Davis was playing man on the crossing route, but Davis passed it off and dropped right into the underneath zone where Brady was throwing it.
  • Alvin Kamara was a non-factor for most of the game. It’s been a rough stretch for 41.
  • I’ve stated a few times that I don’t think Dennis Allen gets fired after just one season. But even if he returns, a loss like this ensures there will be some major changes coming to his coaching staff.

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