The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had their biggest win of the season when they needed it most in the divisional round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay forced four turnovers and still put up 30 points on the board on the way to a 30-20 victory that sets them up for a showdown in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.

LB Devin White
White came out like a man possessed on Sunday, and was the best defensive player on the field for either team. After missing the two previous games while on the reserve/COVID list, White let his pent-up emotion show in his stellar play against New Orleans, leading the team with 11 tackles, a fumble recovery and a momentum-changing interception of Drew Brees.

CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
Much maligned this season for his inconsistent play through the regular season, Murphy-Bunting has been excellent in the postseason, nabbing an interception in each game so far in the playoffs. Murphy-Bunting’s interception of Brees in the first half got the Buccaneers in prime scoring position and they took advantage of the turnover, converting it into a touchdown. Murphy-Bunting finished the game with five stops, one tackle for loss, two pass breakups and the aforementioned interception.

G Aaron Stinnie and C Ryan Jensen
The entire offensive line really deserves to be on the list, but Stinnie and Jensen were key contributors that helped propel the Bucs to a win. Stinnie stepped into a tough situation, replacing an injured Alex Cappa in his first NFL start while having to face one of the toughest defensive lines in the NFL. Jensen just dominated all evening, planting Saints players into the artificial turf on a number of occasions and setting the tone for the Bucs to keep quarterback Tom Brady clean for most of the game, while also paving the way for the Bucs to rush for 127 yards in the game.

QB Tom Brady
Brady didn’t throw for 400 yards or four touchdowns, but he took what the Saints gave him, managed the game extremely well and made the timely throws when needed. You can’t underestimate the impact Brady has had all season, but particularly in the playoffs so far where he elevates everyone around him to believe they are good enough to win it all. For the game Brady finished 18-of-33 for 199 yards, two passing scores and one on the ground, but maybe just as importantly, no turnovers.

RBs Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones
What a difference from the last game against the Saints in Week 9. In that game the Buccaneers ran for just eight yards on only five attempts. This game the duo combined for 125 yards and while neither had any huge plays, both ran hard, keeping the Saints defense honest and off balance. Fournette ended up with 63 yards on 17 carries to go along with five receptions for 44 yards and a TD reception. Jones, still nursing a sore quad, came in and contributed 62 yards on 13 carries.

DC Todd Bowles
We said all week the Buccaneers defense would have to do things completely different than they did in the two previous meetings against Brees and the Saints offense, and his game plan was nothing like we saw in those two games – or really over the last half of the season. Tampa Bay came out playing more aggressively, with more press-man coverage from the start. Bowles defense held the high-powered Saints to just 294 yards while also forcing four turnovers.

Honorable Mention: K Ryan Succop, CB Carlton Davis, S Antoine Winfield Jr.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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Spitfire
6 months ago

All very good. The Dline was disrupting Brees as the game went on. Evans TD grab was as solid as they come. Johnson may have only had 1 great catch but it was magnificent. Everyone came through other than the one blown trick play. I’m still up at 3:08am because my adrenaline is still flowing from this win! 😂🥱

awwdembucs
Reply to  Spitfire
6 months ago

The catch Johnson made was incredible, finger tips, behind him, people may not realize how hard that is. On to GB Go Bucs

Ringer
Reply to  Spitfire
6 months ago

Not only was it an incredible catch, the timing of it in a clutch 3rd and long back in our own territory. I don’t recall the score at the time but it was close and anybody’s game. The Bucs continued on down the field and I think scored a FG. Kept our defense fresh.

tnew
Reply to  Spitfire
6 months ago

Been wanting to see more of Tyler Johnson all season. His trajectory was great prior to AB coming to town. TJ looks like he could be the third receiver of the future for this team (as long as we can keep Godwin).

compewterpirate
6 months ago

I would put Tyler Johnson on that list, a truly astounding, vital, catch (and also a great block on a run play) by the rookie. Antoine Winfield also should be on it and I would be surprised if that wasn’t Jon Ledyard’s turning point/momentum changing play of the game.
Otherwise, Brady, the ‘O’ line, Fournette and Jones, I agree with totally. On the defensive side of the ball, SMB and Devin White stood out and Todd Bowles called a great game today. On special teams, Succop and Pinion rock solid as usual.

Dude
Reply to  compewterpirate
6 months ago

I agree, it was Winfield’s force fumble that took the momentum away from the Saints at a crucial point in the game. White’s interception took their last breath. The D showed up and dominated the Saints. It’s great to see these guys step up when the offense struggles. Now let’s keep it up and get the offense on track against Green Bay and hit on all cylinders. Go Bucs!

BigSombrero
6 months ago

Game balls to White and SMB. The young guys came up big at the biggest moments. Defense was great!

RW
RW
Reply to  BigSombrero
6 months ago

Hey Big S you missed TB12!

Crazyhorse54
6 months ago

This is what it takes to get to the Big Game. Total team effort in each playoff game. Should be interesting in Green Bay. They’re going to want to avenge their embarrassing loss earlier in the season. Have to have a very good defensive game plan. Go Bucs

scubog
6 months ago

Ryan Succop deserved more than just honorable mention. There were a lot of contributors to this victory.

Horse
Reply to  scubog
6 months ago

Scubog; agree with you! I also agree that Winfield should be on there too. I thought Brady played good, but his accuracy at times was off and he was lucky he didn’t get intercepted a couple times.

chefboho
6 months ago

White was an animal in this game. Heck he even called the fumble and int he was going to get. Lol I say the most impressive goes to the whole team. It took a perfect effort on all fronts to beat this Saints team. So proud of these boys and look forward to the bright future this young team has. Brady has changed the culture right before our eyes. I know clown boy doesn’t see it because he’s too busy sitting with the colts team right now, but damn why a performance in all levels

Lawdy
6 months ago

simply magnificent coaching by Todd Bowles

fanofdabucs
6 months ago

The biggest, single issue in both losses was the play of D Smith and to a lesser extent, Wirfs.

The play of Smith and Wirfs was huge yesterday. Smith has been great most of the year, except against the Saints. Last night he was stellar. Wirfs completely took Cam Jordan out if the game.

rocky
6 months ago

Agree with all of these and I see succop was a mention but I’d put him on here for good. They were short field goals but he converted them and his extra points to sort of put our minds at ease even further from the trauma we are so used to with kickers. Shout out to buc76 who in a recent post called Devin white “not a very good player” and we shouldn’t have drafted him fifth overall. I told him that no one had the stat line he had this year in tackles and sacks, not even close. Well… Read more »

fredster
6 months ago

Lost looks good.
Ok I have to eat some crow, the defense did a great job and so did Bowls. I sad I was worried about them and Bowls. Give Bowls props He changed it up and not too much soft zone. Arians and Lefty’s play calling on other hand was crap to me at times and again with too many deep shots on 3rd and short again. Lucky our defense baled us out.

Dude
Reply to  fredster
6 months ago

You know, I don’t think anyone can actually say for sure that it was Arians or Leftwhich’s call to go long on 3rd and short. In the end, it’s Brady who makes that choice. We don’t know what Brady sees, but I trust his judgement. If the catch is made then were praising these guys. So it really depends on how you look at it. But like you, I was surprised they didn’t just try for the 1st down with a run or swing pass out of the backfield to keep the drive alive.

Buc stops here
6 months ago

Bucs coaches deserve the MVP. Changed the defense from mostly zone to mostly man to man. Offense changed from airing it out to running the ball 35 times (ran the ball a TOTAL of 31 times in the two previous games combined). Bucs protected the ball, Brees could not penetrate the rush and the man to man coverage. The players executed the strategy, but give credit to Arians/Leftwich/Bowles to admit they were wrong and played the Saints completely differently the third time around – and won the game as a result.

Horse
6 months ago

I’m just so happy we shut the Saints fans mouths and our players it’s sportsmanship at the very end of the game and after the game. I loved the moment of Brady and Brees.

jongruden
6 months ago

No mention of Donovan Smith? He literally shut down Case Young and Hendricks in back to back weeks, what a shane

jongruden
6 months ago

No mention of Donovan Smith what a shane he shut out Chase Young and Hendricks in back to back weeks, what a shame

toucan
6 months ago

Being mindful that RoJo had a 44 yard run called back for a penalty.