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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Rapid Reaction: Saints 36, Buccaneers 27

The Bucs drop a divisional heartbreaker on the road in New Orleans.


The Saints won the toss to start the spooky NFC South matchup in the Superdome on Halloween. They elected to defer and it was the Buccaneer offense that'd get the ball first.

Unfortunately, after being met with an expectedly deafening crowd, the Bucs went three and out, giving the ball back to the Saints almost immediately.

It was former Buccaneer Jameis Winston who trotted out under center for the Saints and after extending the drive once with his legs, got almost to midfield before the Bucs' defense clamped down. Inside linebacker Lavonte David met New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara in the backfield on fourth down and one and Kamara would get nowhere. It resulted in a turnover on downs, yielding nothing for the Saints.

With a short field to work with, the Bucs' offense led by quarterback Tom Brady managed their way down the field thanks in large part to wide receiver Chris Godwin and his ability to gather more yards after the catch. On third down and seven at the New Orleans's 12, Brady fired for Godwin again as he caught the ball right before the goal line. He bounced off a defender into the end zone to give the Bucs a 7-0 lead with 8:28 left in the first quarter.

The Saints answered on their next drive, thanks to Winston again extending plays with his legs. He got a few first downs that way and then tossed it up for wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith for a 16-yard touchdown on third down that tied the game with 2:39 left in the first.

The Bucs wouldn't return the favor. After getting to midfield, they were slowed down by a couple incompletions and forced to punt with 13:22 remaining in the first half.

New Orleans traded a punt right back as Winston was injured on the drive. Quarterback Trevor Siemian came in and couldn't get anything going, forcing the Saints to relinquish the ball back to the Bucs.

Tampa Bay got into Saints territory but on third down and six, Brady was stripped of the ball by Cam Jordan and the ball was recovered by New Orleans. It had them starting at their own 37 with 7:36 remaining in the second quarter.

Siemian would get to the goal line thanks to a couple gifted calls as the Bucs were flagged for back-to-back roughing the passer penalties that were both questionable. The second negated an interception in the end zone by Antoine Winfield Jr. Still, the Saints would settle for a field goal, taking a 10-7 lead with two and a half minutes left in the half.

The next drive would end abruptly for the Bucs as Brady was picked off at midfield by Saints' cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson and he returned it to the Bucs' 35, giving the Saints another chance before halftime. They'd capitalize on Siemian pass to fullback Alex Armah Jr and after the failed point after, the Saints would take a 16-7 lead with 27 seconds remaining before halftime.

Coming out of halftime, the Saints had the ball after deferring the initial coin toss. Siemian would lead the team down the field and behind two fourth-down conversions, the Saints would get into the end zone on a pitch to Kamara in the backfield that he'd take into the end zone. It increased the Saints lead to 23-7 with 9:01 left in the third.

After a chaotic play that was initially ruled a fumble and another turnover for the Buccaneers, the referees took a look at it and overturned it, letting the Bucs' offense continue their drive. The drive culminated with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Brady to running back Giovani Bernard that pulled the Bucs to 23-14 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.

The Bucs' defense then shut down the Saints on their next drive, forcing a three-and-out that got the Tampa Bay offense back on the field with four and half minutes left in the third.

It wouldn't take the Bucs long as Brady engineered an efficient five-play, 69-yard drive that took 3:11 off the clock and ended with a beautiful 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mike Evans. It pulled the Bucs within two, making the score 23-21 with 1:15 left in the third quarter.

The defense again held up their end of the bargain as they forced another three-and-out from the Siemian-led New Orleans offense. They punted again and gave the ball back with 16 seconds remaining in the third.

This time, the Bucs would be forced to punt after a holding penalty backed them up to first and 20. The Saints would take back over with just over 12 minutes to play in the game.

The Saints would march down the field thanks in large part to some questionable penalties yet again. Devin White was hit with a taunting penalty after both he and Ingram exchanged words after a play was over. It got the Saints as far as the Bucs' 21-yard line but the defense stood tall and forced New Orleans to settle for a 35-yard field goal. It made the score 26-21 with 8:31 left in the game.

The next drive was an exciting one for the Bucs, and none more than wide receiver Cyril Grayson. Brady unleashed a 50-yard bomb to a completely wide open Grayson, who's a New Orleans native. It was his second catch ever and his first touchdown. The Bucs then decided to go for two but wouldn't get it. They clung to a 27-26 lead with 5:44 to play.

The Bucs' defense looked like they were going to force a 51-yard field goal try by the Saints on the next drive but a phantom holding call by the refs gave New Orleans new life. They made it to first and goal at the nine at the two-minute warning needing just a field goal to take the lead. They'd get the field goal after the defense held them, kicking the 23-yarder to go up two points with 1:41 left in the game.

Brady was picked on his second pass attempt of the drive and it was returned for a touchdown. After the point after, the Saints went up 36-27, which is where the score would stay as the Bucs dropped an important divisional contest on the road.

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