Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Rapid Reaction: Buccaneers 26, Saints 9

The Buccaneers defeated the Saints 26-9 and advance to 3-1, clinching first place in the NFC South


The Buccaneers defeated the Saints 26-9 and take first place in the NFC South. Tampa Bay achieved a balanced attack in the Big Easy, which stimulated the play-action game. Defensively, the Bucs imposed their will in the division clash, not allowing a single touchdown inside Caesars Superdome.

The Buccaneers won the coin toss and elected to defer, putting the Bucs' defense on the field first inside the Superdome. The Saints' opening offensive possession ended with a Blake Grupe 37-yard field goal as a seven-yard tackle for loss by rookie Yaya Diaby on Alvin Kamara set up third-and-12. On the Bucs' first offensive possession, Baker Mayfield connected with Mike Evans on a play-action pass for a gain of 18 on the opening play. Out of the gate, Evans ran an out route and hauled in the catch, moving the chains. However, two penalties – a false start and intentional grounding – put Tampa Bay behind the chains, forcing a punt.

The Bucs and Saints then traded back-to-back punts before the flip switched in favor for Tampa Bay. Mayfield led a methodical 17-play, 87-yard drive (season-high in regard to plays) that culminated in a wide-open Cade Otton in the end zone. Another 18-yard gain for Mike Evans and a high-effort run by Rachaad White, who eluded two defenders, set up the scoring play. The Bucs' defense continued the stellar trend on the following drive as Antoine Winfield Jr. got home on a third-down blitz, ending the Saints' drive late in the second quarter. Following an interception on the ensuing drive, the Bucs' defense made a critical play. Winfield Jr. forced a fumble and recovered it at the New Orleans 6-yard line, putting Mayfield and company back on the field. The team capitalized, as Mayfield found rookie Trey Palmer in the back corner of the end zone. He leapt into the air and high-pointed the ball over Isaac Yiadom's head, extending the Bucs' lead, 14-3, at the half. Heading into the intermission, Tampa Bay held a 206-98-yard advantage over the home team.

On the Saints' following drive, Winfield Jr. became the catalyst. He outpaced Kamara to the sideline and dropped him in the flat for a loss of six yards, bringing up second-and-long. On third down, Winfield broke up a deep pass downfield intended for Chris Olave, which forced a punt. He was behind the line of scrimmage and the very next play; Winfield was in the end zone, disrupting a potential touchdown to Olave. The rangy safety imposed his will from sideline-to-sideline. Tampa Bay's offense stalled and at the end of the third quarter, Lavonte David and Christian Izien brought down Kamara on third down, forcing a Saints' 32-yard field goal. On the subsequent drive for Tampa Bay, despite a 32-yard gain by Chris Godwin on a crossing route, the Bucs were forced to settle for three. Chase McLaughlin drilled a 51-yarder, making it a 17-6 game early in the fourth.

Four-straight screen passes to Kamara for a gain of only 11 yards, including a drop on third down, resulted in a Grupe 44-yard field goal, bringing the Saints within one score. With under four minutes in regulation, Deven Thompkins' impressive outing continued. He secured a catch in the end zone, extending and laying out his body for the 5-yard score. Thompkins' body was parallel to the field on the highlight-reel grab, icing the victory for Tampa Bay inside enemy territory. A Vita Vea strip sack led to a McLaughlin 28-yard field goal, putting an exclamation mark on the win.

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