Behind the scenes photos from Buccaneers vs. Saints at Raymond James Stadium.
- Run game impressive with a 1-2 punch**
Both Doug Martin and Charles Sims got established early in the first half. Martin's 45 yard run early in the second quarter set up the game's first TD, as Josh McCown found Mike Evans for his record 12th TD reception in a single season. On the ensuing drive, the Bucs stayed committed to the run and Charles Sims picked up gains of nine and eventually, 20 yards before scoring his first NFL TD on another eight yard run. In all, Tampa Bay had 24 run plays (22 by design, two scrambles) for a season high in the first half and Martin finished with his first 100 yard game of the season. This was the bright spot of Sunday.
2. Picks of Brees were large
The Bucs D swayed the momentum repeatedly by getting interceptions. Late in the first half, DT Clinton McDonald deflected a pass high in the air and Leonard Johnson came down with the pick which led to a field goal. In the third quarter, a player who continued to shine down the stretch of the season, Bradley McDougald, stopped the Saints scoring efforts with a tremendous leaping one handed interception to keep the score 20-7. Later in the third, Keith Tandy nullified the Saints latest scoring try, when he jumped in front of Marques Colston at the goal line for the third int of the game. Of Brees' 17 interceptions on the season, the Bucs got six of them in the two meetings.
3. Sacking the QB finished the season strong
McDonald's "side suplex" sack of Brees and later Akeem Spence taking down the Saints QB for a second one gave the Bucs a total of 36 for the season. This is most sacks since the '02 Super Bowl winning season and gives hope for 2015. Especially, when you consider that Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson will be back at full strength next fall, there is a lot of reason to believe that the pass rush will start the season as one of the most improved areas that can be counted on next year.