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November 6, 2011 @ 4:48 pm
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Saints Outlast Sloppy Bucs, 27-16

Written by Eric
Eric Horchy


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Thanks in part to sloppy tackling and nine penalties, the Buccaneers were beaten by the Saints in New Orleans, 27-16, as Drew Brees threw two touchdowns and the trio of Chris Ivory, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles rushed for 175 of the Saints' 195 rushing yards.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ road to 10 wins and an NFC South division title just got a little steeper Sunday afternoon after falling flat in New Orleans and losing 27-16.

Coupled with the Atlanta Falcons’ 31-7 win over Indianapolis, Tampa Bay (4-4) now finds itself looking up at both teams heading into Week 10’s home date with the Houston Texans.

Leading up to Sunday’s divisional rematch, talk focused all week on New Orleans’ desire to bounce back from an embarrassing loss at St. Louis and Tampa Bay being healed and revitalized following its bye.

Half of those expectations proved accurate as the Drew Brees-led Saints were persistent aggressors and never trailed while the Bucs’ late charge could not mask an ineffective three quarters of spotty play and missed opportunities.

While Brees didn’t hit the 300-yard mark through the air, his precision was razor sharp. The 11th-year pro connected on 27 of 36 attempts for 258 yards and two touchdowns.

New Orleans’ need for a huge statistical day out of Brees was tempered by a devastating ground attack that churned out seven yards per carry and 195 total. Second-year back Chris Ivory led the ground attack with 67 yards on 15 touches.

RB Darren Sproles, penned in for 62 yards of offense during the Bucs’ 26-20 Week 6 win over New Orleans, again touched the ball nine times but with greater effectiveness. The Saints’ diminutive spark plug recorded three of the team’s top eight longest plays, included a 21-yard reception for a touchdown in the second quarter that pumped New Orleans’ early lead up to 14-0.

Sproles fueled the Saints’ initial score one series prior by picking up a combined 50 yards on the drive’s first two plays. That head start eventually set up Brees’ 3-yard, fade-route touchdown pass to WR Lance Moore over the head of CB E.J. Biggers.

Tampa Bay’s offense, while sufficiently capable in moving the ball, couldn’t match the Saints’ ability to make plays when they were needed the most. QB Josh Freeman went 27 of 37 passing for 281 yards and RB LeGarrette Blount picked up 72 yards on 13 carries, but the Bucs only converted two of their 12 third downs and repeatedly failed to capitalize on opportunities. Once again playing a role in some wasted chances were more ill-timed penalties. Tampa Bay miscues drew nine flags for 80 yards.

As the Bucs struggles to move the chains on the money down, Brees and New Orleans were their typical, efficient selves, going five-for-10 in such situations. The Saints entered Sunday tops in the NFL in conversion percentage.

Exemplifying the Bucs’ struggles to convert big plays were the repeated breakdowns suffered during the drive that followed Sproles’ second-quarter touchdown.

Return man Preston Parker provided an immediate jolt with his 45-yard runback to the Bucs’ 41. The Tampa Bay offense responded by going three-and-out, but caught a break when Saints CB Patrick Robinson was flagged for a defensive delay-of-game foul that gave the Bucs a fresh set of downs. Now at the Saints’ 48, Tampa Bay managed to gain only six more yards and P Michael Koenen trotted back out.

Adding salt to the wound at this point was seeing recently returned defensive tackle Gerald McCoy being taken into the locker room following the New Orleans touchdown drive with an arm injury. Reports following the game were not positive and hinted at the possibility of it being a season-ending setback.

Even as the Bucs settled for three Connor Barth field goals before scoring their first touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay still managed to put itself within striking distance Sunday afternoon.

Down 24-6 entering the final 15 minutes, Freeman led the Bucs to 10 unanswered fourth-quarter points as he tried to stir up thoughts of a ninth-career comeback victory. The touchdown with 5:33 left came on a five-yard hookup with TE Kellen Winslow (four catches for 29 yards) after Freeman feigned a quarterback draw.

Although the touchdown created a one-possession game for Tampa Bay, at 24-16, the drive came just after the Bucs left additional points on the field once again. Thanks to a Malcolm Jenkins pass interference penalty while trying to defend Parker on third-and-13, Tampa Bay received a first-and-goal situation at the Saints 7-yard line. Rather than finding the end zone, the Bucs squandered the chance and Barth was called upon for the third time and booted a 25 yarder. The Bucs’ fourth-year kicker went three-for-three Sunday afternoon, hitting on two other occasions from 40 and 48.

With the Bucs needing a defensive stop to get the ball back following Winslow’s touchdown, the guy Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris said they needed to key in on all week leading up to Sunday delivered the knockout blow. Brees took a shotgun snap on third-and-4 from the Bucs’ 46, saw the middle of the field completely devoid of Tampa Bay defenders and took off for a 20-yard pickup to the 26-yard line. New Orleans called three running plays that ate up all of the Bucs’ timeouts and K John Kasey effectively iced the game with a 34-yard field goal.

The game’s only turnover was provided by Bucs CB Ronde Barber early in the second half. Keeping an eye on Sproles coming out of the backfield, Barber jumped Brees’ screen pass for his second interception of the season and the 42nd of his 15-year career.

Down 17-3 at the time, the pick gave Tampa Bay possession at the Saints’ 33 but the Bucs again did little with the opportunity. On third-and-4, New Orleans again assisted the Bucs’ drive with a penalty. DE Will Smith was called for encroachment and Tampa Bay moved to the 22 with new life.

On first down, RB Kregg Lumpkin wheeled out of the backfield and essentially tripped over his own feet trying to pull in a high Freeman pass that could have gone for a big play. Touchdown aspirations took a serious blow on the next down when Blount was hit with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness flag for shoving his hand in the facemask of Smith. Instead of being at the Saints’ 21, Tampa Bay found itself at the 36 and facing third-and-24. The Bucs did not convert and Barth hit his 48-yard field goal.

Doing what Tampa Bay couldn’t all day, New Orleans took advantage of its opponent’s inability to score touchdowns by extending its lead to 24-6 on the next drive with one of its own. RB Pierre Thomas (eight carries for 66 yards) capped the 12-play, 76-yard march with a 9-yard run that featured him breaking right out of the grasp of LB Quincy Black at the 6-yard line.

Now one-and-a-half games out of first place and one behind Atlanta for second, Tampa Bay will host Houston (6-3) next week to try and end its current two-game skid. The Saints (6-3) and the Falcons (5-3) square off for sole possession of first at 1:00 in Atlanta.

Sunday’s game was played in front of 73,043 fans inside the controlled environment of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Starting on defense for Tampa Bay was: LE Michael Bennett, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Brian Price, RE Adrian Clayborn, WLB Adam Hayward, MLB Mason Foster, SLB Quincy Black, LCB Aqib Talib, RCB Ronde Barber, SS Sean Jones, FS Tanard Jackson.

The Bucs lined up offensively with: WR Mike Williams, LT Donald Penn, LG Ted Larsen, C Jeff Faine, RG Davin Joseph, RT Jeremy Trueblood, TE Kellen Winslow, WR Arrelious Benn, RB LeGarrette Blount, TE Luke Stocker and QB Josh Freeman.

Seven Buccaneers were listed as inactive. They were LB Zac Diles, G Jeremy Zuttah, WR Sammie Stroughter, CB Myron Lewis, DT Frank Okam, DE Tim Crowder and OT James Lee.

Last modified on Sunday, 06 November 2011 22:43

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  • avatar

    This team is where it will be at the end of the season, at best 8-8 but I figure more like 7-9. We will be lucky to go 3-3 in the division. Morris has no control over this team and the penalties will only keep piling up. It was this way with Gruden now with Morris.Why they pulled Blount makes no sense. Its not like we were throwing down the field every play so why bother?Like it was said in another post he didn't pull Talib the talker against the Bears. Blount was our most effective weapon we should have kept using him. I have lost a lot of faith in this team and Josh Freeman. He has regressed back to his rookie year and does not look like he's gonna pull out of it.
  • avatar

    OK. I have to admit that the playcalling yesterday was pedestrian at best. When we brought J.J. in and ran the same play that we ran the last time it was just lame. Why did we quit running the ball when Blount was getting over 4 yds per carry?? I know Morris was pissed at him but you didn't pull Talib when he had his bone headed penalty so why quit using Blount? Tackling was just atrocious. Maybe the worst I've seen all year. They need to show the play where Foster makes the stop on 3rd and one and show the rest of the team how to make a tackle. There is no excuse for not executing the fundamentals that they've learned since high school. I can tolerate losing when we show effort and discipline but it seemed like both of those were missing on defense. Penalties just killed us on offense. If Lumkin doesn't quit on his route we have another TD and the pass to Lorig was just off inches. Just a frustrating day.
  • avatar

    Getting out coached is becoming a thing for the bucs..Black is over rated!!!I'm ready to get off of this ride
  • avatar

    Injuries, inexperienced Head Coach and General Manager is what most of us understood and were willing to let this play out. I am willing to give this another year. The "young team excuse" is off the board for me in 2012. I think we need to hire an experienced Defensive Coordinator and improve our off season conditioning program. We have had more than normal injuries compared to other teams. Game planning and adjustments need some tweaking. I don't feel we practice hard enough and are not a disciplined team.
  • avatar

    Well atleast we will be able to draft a stud corner i.e; Morris Claiborne or Dre Kirkpatrick with a top ten pick this year. I'm really sick of Biggers! Not to mention Greg Olson, I think next year might be the time for a change. Rah, I love you man! But, please hold your players acountable for stupid penalties. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I'm so pissed! GO BUCS!
  • avatar

    I've been doing this dance since 1976. The bottom line is our ownership is weak. We have an enormous amount of money under the cap. Our team is slow and filled with late round draft picks. The Glazer's have no trouble signing soccer players to decent contracts but when it comes to our team, wel settle for a "youth movement" line of nonsense. This youth movement will carry Morris and Dominick for another couple of years. After that, they will be re-cycled to another team like everyone else in the boys club. REMEMBER, WE'RE YOUNG!!! What a line of B.S. Oh, and you're right Miller and Okam have a better chance of succeeding on Man vs. Food then the NFL. REMEMBER WE'RE YOUNG...and UNDISCIPLINED, and SLOW, and NOT VERY GOOD.
  • avatar

    What is there left to say? Outcoached. Outplayed. No passion no fire. Closest thing to a pulse was Freeman chasing a DE down the field and getting in his face. Sad that not even bye week and return of healthy squad couldn't produce a more inspiring performance. Coaches really need to step up and shoulder the blame of team alway looking lost, plays taking forever to get called, and head scratching game plans.
  • avatar

    Miller sucks getting destroyed the whole game with mccoy out the rest of the year we better hope okam gets his conditioning up because with miller out there it's an easy 5-10 yards a pop. Olson's is a dumbass and couldnt call a game of madden more or less an actual NFL game. JJ in on 3rd n 4? Benn end around? (psst. olson these plays don't work you idiot.) Were not going to get any better until we fire him. His offense has how many points in the first half of games during his tenure? I doubt it's more than 100. And pulling blount out every third down is extremely predictable as is the 5 -7 step drops while receivers run crossing patterns. After a bye this is the best he can come up with? terrible...He single handedly allows our D to get torched in the first half because our O can't sustain a drive. Raheem I like you but you gotta get this team under control. This D has shitty players littered all around most notably miller, quincy, hayes, sean jones,biggers, talib. fix these problems and you got yourself a defense. Tackling is atrocious 2.
  • avatar

    What I see wrong with the Bucs is the play calling. I truly think they need another OC.
  • avatar

    This one is all all on the coaching staff. Rah, you need to start being a coach and not the players bud as this is one very undisciplined team!!! Can someone tell me why Quincy Black is on the field. You are telling me he is better than Hayes? Ronde needs to retire after this year. Freeman has taken steps backward instead of forward in his development. He is so inaccurate and should have had 2 more touchdown passes if he could throw. Olson is a joke as he has no imagination or creativity. When Johnson came in for the wildcat, everyone in the place knew he was running. Why not throw the ball Olson you idiot. This team is out of control with the stupid penalties and players yelling at each other on the field. Time to get some coaches in here quickly who know how to run offenses and defenses. Rah has shown he isn't capable!!!!
  • avatar

    The hapless Bucs were never in this game. Freeman lost his cool early and often. They do just enough to make it look close on the scoreboard even when they are being dominated in every phase of the game. We need a new offensive coordinator who can figure out what works and put his offense in their comfort zone to start the game and get their quarterback in a rhythm. Oh well, at least no picks for Freeman. This team looks in dissarray. We are eight games into the season and the players still don't know where to lign up. That is on the coaches.
  • avatar

    Freeman needs a good running back to go with Blount and a blazing receiver. But I don't see that happening in the next eight weeks.
  • avatar

    Oh boy...a moral victory at the end. Good thing we have a great conference record....that is after we beat the Packers in Green Bay, Atlanta in Atlanta, and North Carolina twice we might have a chance to make the playoffs. That is all we need to do and we could be playoff bound....yahoo !!!
  • avatar

    SURPRISE! A bunch of field gaols did not win this one. Well to hear it all season we can only stop the run if the great McCoy plays. Well McFaine is hurt AGAIN!! Coach said he does not know how bad but it does not sound good. (That was the radio interview). Maybe it's time to find a DT that is tough enough to really play in the NFL to replace him. Also nice to see the way we go 10 yeards forward 15 yards back. Morris it is on YOU. It is known as DISCIPLINE!! Nice work in the Red Zone. All we can do is Pass?? We still need a RB Dom!!
  • avatar

    They were in it at the end. Just imagine how good they can be w/o the slow starts and penalties. GO Bucs!!!!!
  • avatar

    And if Pigs had Wings....
  • avatar

    Not a horrible loss, but a loss nonetheless. As the game came to a close I was trying to figure out whose fault it was but I don't think any player played bad enough to cause the loss individually. Biggers gave up two completions early in the game (one for a TD) but that's nothing new. They didn't pick on him the whole game so it's not just his fault. The Saints just wanted it more and it showed from the get go when they were blowing our defense off the ball in the run game. If there was one glaring deficiency in this game it was the penalties. We've simply got to clean those up to beat the better teams.
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