Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Game Awards: Buccaneers vs. Saints

Who got this week's Game Ball?


Game Ball:** Safety Keith Tandy was a prime candidate for this award a week ago after he sealed a win in San Diego with a goal-line interception, but we went with linebacker Lavonte David thanks to his pick-six in the second half. Well, Tandy would not be denied this time. Not only did he put the finishing touches on a very tense game with an interception off Saints QB Drew Brees, but he also deflected a pass earlier in the fourth quarter that was snagged by teammate Brent Grimes. The Buccaneers held the Saints to 294 yards of total offense and a 31% third-down conversion rate, well below their season averages, and Tandy was in the middle of it with a team-high nine tackles, one for a loss. Quarterback Jameis Winston was the least surprised person in a jam-packed Raymond James Stadium. "I told Keith again, I said, 'Today is your day,'" recounted Winston. "He's one of the hardest workers we've got on this team. He shows up in the locker room when I show up in the locker room in the morning. God bless him.


Play of the Game:** It's Tandy again, but not his game-sealing pick. At that point, the Bucs were protecting a five-point lead with less than a minute to play, and the Saints were out of timeouts. Yes, New Orleans had reached midfield, but even if they convert that fourth down they've still got a long way to get the win. If anything, the Saints' drive to midfield with 10 minutes left in the game was far more frightening. In this case, the Bucs forced a third-and-one when David tackled tight end Coby Fleener quickly after a pass over the middle. On the next play, Brees tried to throw a quick dart to wide receiver Brandon Coleman in the left flat but Tandy read it all the way and nearly intercepted it on the run. As it turned out, he got only one hand on the ball, but that caused a deflection that Grimes hauled in to end that scoring threat. New Orleans never again got over midfield, thanks in part to the incredible punting of Bryan Anger.


Turning Point:** Tampa Bay never trailed in the game, so one could point to the Saints' first possession, a three-and-out keyed by Tandy's tackle-for-loss, as the turning point. However, after the home team rolled to a 13-0 lead in the first half, there was a noticeable shift in momentum after a botched kickoff return led to a safety and an ensuing field goal. The Saints trailed by just five points at halftime despite the Bucs' early control of the action. The thing is, it could have been worse. New Orleans put together a drive at the end of the half that got all the way to the Bucs' one-yard line. A go-ahead touchdown seemed imminent, but a false start cost the Saints five yards and then Robert Ayers sacked Brees back at the 15-yard line with just a few seconds left in the half. New Orleans settled for another field goal and never did take the lead.

It Was Over When: Tandy jumped in front of Willie Snead on a short pass in the right flat. Fellow safety Bradley McDougald had tipped him off to the possibility of the play call and Tandy reacted quickly to get the Bucs' third turnover. Even with less than a minute left and no timeouts, Brees and company would have been a threat to win the game had they converted that fourth down.

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