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Rapid Reaction: Buccaneers vs. Saints

Posted Dec 31, 2017

The Buccaneers won their last game of the season at home by a score of 31-24.

The Bucs were able to hold the Saints’ one-two punch of a ground game to 30 total yards in the first half.

They weren’t able to contain all of running back Alvin Kamara though, who broke loose on a 106-yard kickoff return to answer the Bucs’ first touchdown of the game, which came on a 1-yard run from Peyton Barber during Tampa Bay’s first possession of the afternoon.

The Saints scored again after capitalizing on an interception by safety Marcus Williams at midfield. It would be Kamara again who punched in a 7-yard run to put the Saints up 14-7 with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter.

The Bucs would strike again a couple drives later as Winston got the touchdown on a keeper and great second effort to break the plane. The Bucs wouldn’t quite even the score as kicker Patrick Murray pulled the extra point wide right, giving the Saints a narrow 14-13 lead going into halftime.

Defensive end Ryan Russell got the first sack of Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees during the Saints’ first drive of the second half. He dropped the New Orleans signal caller for a loss of seven on third-and-3 that forced the Saints to give the ball back.

The Bucs moved down the field on their first possession of the second half before quarterback Jameis Winston was intercepted in the end zone by Marcus Williams for his second interception of the game.

The first score of the second half came with 2:44 left in the third quarter as Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz connected on a 48-yarder to put New Orleans up 17-13.

The Bucs came up empty on their next drive but special teams would come up huge as Tampa Bay punted the ball away. Safety Josh Robinson stripped Saints’ Tommylee Lewis of the ball on the return and Bucs’ safety Isaiah Johnson recovered, running the ball in for the score and putting the Buccaneers up 20-17 with 14:04 remaining in the fourth quarter.

After starting on their own 8-yard line, the Saints scored on their next drive on a 3–yard pass to fullback Zach Line to put New Orleans back up 24-20 with 7:07 left to play.

The Bucs connected on a 42-yard field goal on their next drive to cut New Orleans lead to 24-23 with 4:31 left on the clock.

With 2:28 left on the clock, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald came up with a huge third-down sack of Drew Brees, forcing the Saints to punt. Tampa Bay took over at their own 5-yard line with 1:58 remaining in the game.

During the Bucs’ final drive, wide receiver Mike Evans eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season, making him just the third player in league history to record four such seasons to start their career.

The cherry on top was wide receiver Chris Godwin’s 39-yard touchdown reception, the rookie’s first of his career, followed by a Mike Evans two-point conversion to put the Buccaneers up 31-24 with nine seconds left in the game.

New Orleans would not be able to answer and the Bucs won their last game of the season, 31-24.