WHAT HAPPENED IN TAMPA BAY’S 42-17 LOSS AT NEW ORLEANSThe Saints needed a win against the visiting Buccaneers in order to clinch a playoff spot and came out hungry for the postseason in a 42-17 victory. Mission accomplished for New Orleans, which improves to 11-5 on the season thanks to the stellar play by quarterback Drew Brees.
The Bucs fall to 4-12 on the season and have lost their last three contests, which could cost head coach Greg Schiano his job after compiling an 11-21 record in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay.
“Obviously, disappointing last game of the season,” Schiano said. “Unfortuantely, something that we’ve been pretty good at this year – playing pass defense – we didn’t do very well today. My hat’s off to New Orleans. They did an excellent job. They had an excellent plan and they executed it very well.”
Brees was unstoppable, completing 17-of-21 passes for 321 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in the first half in helping the Saints build a 28-14 lead. Brees carved up Tampa Bay’s defense and finished the game completing 24-of-31 passes for 381 yards and four passing touchdowns and one rushing score.
Tampa Bay’s defense was unable to register any takeaways and only sacked Brees once as the Saints converted 7-of-13 (54.8 percent) of third down opportunities, while the Bucs converted only 3-of-13 (23 percent) on third down. The Saints outgained the Bucs 468-290 yards in the 2013 season finale.
Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon played reasonably well in New Orleans, completing 22-of-41 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Glennon finished his rookie season with 19 touchdown passes, including eight games with two touchdowns or more, which is tied for the most by a rookie in NFL history.
Tampa Bay kept things close in the first half, thanks to a 48-yard touchdown pass to Tiquan Underwood, who finished with five catches for a game-high 93 yards. That tied the game at 7-7 before New Orleans took a 28-14 lead at halftime and then pulled away in the second half as the Bucs offense could only muster up a field goal on its initial possession in the third quarter.
“Offensively, I was pleased with our first half performance,” Schiano said. “I thought Mike played well. In the second half the game kind of changed a little bit. They outplayed us and they outcoached us and they won the game.”
The Bucs had a chance for points right before halftime but opted for a pass on a fake punt with an exotic formation instead of kicking a field goal that would make the score 28-17. Punter Michael Koenen was harassed into throwing an ill-fated incompletion.
“We hadn’t been doing a great job stopping them, so I thought it was going to take touchdowns rather than field goals,” Schiano said. “But in retrospect, I would like to have it back. I knew we would have the opportunity to stun them. They didn’t have any timeout to call. Our concern was that if we came out in that exotic formation they might call timeout. They had no timeouts, so I thought we could get them off-guard. Obviously, it didn’t work.”
Schiano was right in the fact that it would take touchdowns to beat New Orleans, especially after Brees accounted for five out of the six Saints touchdowns.
“Drew, as I mentioned all week, is as good as reading and deciphering a defense and delivering the ball clearly in his progression,” Schiano said. “I thought today he was on, and we weren’t. That’s a bad combo.”
Schiano is scheduled to address the media at his season-ending press conference at 2:30 p.m. on Monday at One Buccaneer Place.
HOW DID THE TEAMS SCORE? – BUCS vs. SAINTS SCORING SERIESFirst Quarter – Saints 7, Buccaneers 0New Orleans struck first with a 44-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Brees to wide receiver Lance Moore, who beat nickel cornerback Leonard Johnson in coverage. Brees was 4-of-4 for 57 yards on a drive that covered 80 yards in nine plays.
First Quarter – Saints 7, Buccaneers 7The Bucs answered on their next possession with a touchdown to tie the score at 7-7. After wide receiver Vincent Jackson picked up a first down with a 9-yard catch on third-and-5, quarterback Mike Glennon hit wide receiver Tiquan Underwood with a 48-yard touchdown catch on a flea flicker play.
First Quarter – Saints 14, Buccaneers 7The Saints responded with a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Brees was 6-of-6 for 82 yards with big throws of 33 yards to tight end Jimmy Graham and 24 yards to running back Darren Sproles to get New Orleans into Tampa Bay territory. Two plays later, Brees hit Graham with a 10-yard touchdown strike to help New Orleans build a 14-7 lead in the first quarter.
Second Quarter – Saints 21, Buccaneers 7Brees hit Graham with a 17-yard pass to the Bucs’ 41-yard line. Two plays later on third-and-10, Brees hit wide receiver Robert Meachem with a 41-yard touchdown pass over cornerback Darrelle Revis as New Orleans took a 21-7 lead.
Second Quarter – Saints 21, Buccaneers 14After a 5-yard run by running back Bobby Rainey, Glennon hit Jackson with a gain of eight yards for a first down. Two plays later, Rainey ripped off a 16-yard run down to the New Orleans 49. Glennon hit Underwood with a 9-yard gain, followed by runs of three yards and 24 yards by running back Brian Leonard. After a 12-yard catch by Jackson down to the New Orleans 1, Glennon hit tight end Tim Wright with a 1-yard touchdown pass to pull the Bucs within a touchdown of the Saints.
Second Quarter – Saints 28, Buccaneers 14On third-and-6 from the New Orleans 24, Brees hit rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills with a 76-yard touchdown to increase the Saints’ lead to 28-14 with under just three minutes remaining in the first half.
Third Quarter – Saints 28, Buccaneers 17Glennon completed 6-of-6 passes for 66 yards on their first drive in the second half, including a 24-yard strike to Wright and a 19-yard pass to Underwood. But on third-and-11 at the New Orleans 33, a 15-yard penalty on guard Ted Larsen set up Tampa Bay in a third-and-26 situation. After a 12-yard gain to running back Michael Hill, the Bucs had to settle for a 54-yard field goal by Rian Lindell to cut into New Orleans’ lead.
Third Quarter – Saints 35, Buccaneers 17Brees drove the Saints 92 yards for a touchdown to increase New Orleans’ lead to 35-17 in the third quarter. Brees hit wide receiver Marques Colston with a 13-yard gain, followed by a 24-yard connection on third-and-6 from the New Orleans’ 25. On the next play, running back Khiry Robinson took the ball around left end for a 25-yard gain down to the Tampa Bay 26. After three Brees passes covered 18 yards, Pierre Thomas ran eight yards for a touchdown on third-and-6 from the Tampa Bay 8-yard line.
Fourth Quarter – Saints 42, Buccaneers 17The Saints took over at the Tampa Bay 25 after Glennon’s pass was intercepted by cornerback Keenan Lewis. After an 11-yard pass down to the Tampa Bay 14, Brees hit Graham with a 3-yard pass down to the Tampa Bay 9. On third-and-5, Brees scrambled up the middle for a 9-yard touchdown to increase New Orleans’ lead to 42-17.
WHAT WAS NOTABLE ABOUT SUNDAY’S GAME FOR THE BUCS?Tampa Bay wide receiver Tiquan Underwood’s 48-yard touchdown catch was the first pass play over 40 yards given up by the New Orleans defense all season. … Bucs end Adrian Clayborn sacked quarterback Drew Brees in the second quarter and finished the season with six sacks, which is tied with linebacker Lavonte David for second behind defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (nine). Clayborn had a career-high 10 tackles against the Saints, including four tackles for loss, which was a career-best. … Bucs rookie running back Michael Hill caught his first NFL pass, a 12-yarder, against the Saints, and finished with two catches for 23 yards. … Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon set team rookie records with 19 passing touchdowns in a season and 2,608 passing yards. … Bucs rookie tight end Tim Wright had five touchdown catches thanks to a 1-yard scoring grab in the second quarter on Sunday. Wright’s five TDs are tied for the fourth-most in Bucs history for a tight end. … Tampa Bay kicker Rian Lindell connected on a season-long 54-yard field goal in the third quarter.
WHICH BUCCANEERS WERE INACTIVE?The following Bucs were inactive against the Saints: FB/RB Lonnie Pryor, SS Mark Barron, DL S. Solomon, G Carl Nicks, LB Dekoda Watson, LB Ka’Lial Glaud and DT Matthew Masifilo.
The following Saints were inactive against the Bucs: QB Ryan Griffin, WR Nick Toon, DE Tom Johnson, CB Terrence Frederick, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, RB Travaris Cadet and LB Kenyuta Dawson.
WHICH BUCS GOT HURT?• The Buccaneers did not appear to suffer any serious injuries during the Saints game except for nose tackle Akeem Spence, who suffered a leg injury with just minutes remaining in the game.
WHAT WILL UPSET GREG SCHIANO WHEN HE WATCHES THE FILM?• The Bucs secondary gave up four touchdown passes to quarterback Drew Brees in the first half, including three over 40 yards.
• The decision to run a fake punt near the Saints red zone turned into a debacle as punter Michael Koenen was nearly sacked on fourth down and the Bucs came away with no points right before halftime.
• Tampa Bay left guard Ted Larsen had a 15-yard facemask penalty to set up a third-and-26 in the third quarter and take the Bucs out of field goal range.
• The Bucs only managed to score three second half points on Sunday. Second half scoring has been a huge problem for Tampa Bay all season.
WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR THE BUCS?Tampa Bay finished the 2013 campaign with a 4-12 record. After a 0-8 start, the Bucs finished 4-4 down the stretch, but lost their last three games.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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