D-line did a lot of good things.
The men up front did their job, making it easier on a secondary that was shuffled heavily due to injuries. They completely shut down New Orleans' run game in the first half, allowing just three rushing yards before halftime. They also were able to hurry Brees, something that's not easily done behind arguably the best offensive line in the league. One of the most impressive plays came from defensive end Carl Nassib as he burst around the edge to take on Saints running back Alvin Kamara head-on. He ended up wrapping Kamara up and all but throwing him into his own end zone, resulting in a seven-yard loss on the play for New Orleans, who would end up punting on their second possession of the game.
It was a tale of two halves as the second didn't go as well as the first for the Bucs, though you wouldn't have thought it from the first drive after halftime. New Orleans had won the toss to start the game and elected to defer, getting the ball back to begin the second half facing a 14-3 deficit. It was then that the lone sack of the game came with the added bonus of a strip by Nassib, causing Brees to fumble the ball and actually lose it. He hadn't lost a fumble since Week Three against the Falcons. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul recovered, but the Bucs wouldn't be able to come up with any points off the drive. At the very least, it meant a loss of possession for the Saints, but ultimately it wouldn't matter. The second half ended with 25 unanswered points by the Saints and you could tell the defense had been worn down, having virtually no depth to lean on, especially in the secondary.
There was a clear momentum shift.
The shift for the Buccaneers came on a blocked punt in the third quarter. From there, it seemed that the offense couldn't get anything going and couldn't stay on the field long enough for the defense to stay fresh. Say what you want about something as intangible as momentum, but it mattered. It was Saints' "quarterback" Taysom Hill that had the block, bursting up the middle to cleanly get his hands on the ball. The Saints took over at the Bucs' 30-yard line and from there, it was a scoring spree.
Bucs won the turnover battle.
Save for the special teams turnover, it was a clean day for the offense and the Bucs actually won the turnover contest. It was a collective effort of the entire front seven to end up coming out on the plus side of the turnover margin with the first takeaway coming courtesy of linebacker Adarius Taylor in the second quarter. Taylor made a great read on quarterback Drew Brees' eyes and leapt up to nab the ball right near the line of scrimmage, milking a seven-yard return off it. The interception would result in points for the Bucs, as they were able to capitalize with a touchdown right before the half, increasing their lead to two scores, 14-3.
Bucs beat themselves with penalties.
Part of the reason the Bucs weren't able to get anything going on offense in the second half was the amount of penalties they committed almost right off the bat, leading up to the blocked punt. The Bucs committed two offensive holding penalties within five plays, though one was declined. The Bucs' first drive of the fourth quarter began with an unnecessary roughness penalty that meant the Bucs starting on their own nine-yard line. A play. Later, the Bucs committed back-to-back penalties that backed them up far enough that they couldn't recover and had to punt.
If we're being honest, the penalties really started in the second quarter but the feeling of frustration was negated by the two-score lead by halftime. In the Bucs' second drive of the second quarter, they were hit with a total of four penalties for a total of 35 yards. The Bucs punted that possession away but got a bonus one on the Taylor interception to right the ship before the half.
Either way, self-inflicted mistakes caused the offense to sputter as the Saints bested the Bucs in discipline. New Orleans committed six penalties for 51 yards, while the Bucs committed 10 for 84 on the day.