Welcome to a NEW post-game column, where I’ll take a look at the moment the game turned either in favor or against the Buccaneers. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive look at all the reasons the Bucs won or lost, but instead the singular moment where things went north or south for the team.

Setting The Stage

Following Brady’s pick-6 to Janoris Jenkins to start the third quarter, the Bucs quickly rallied back with a touchdown to O.J. Howard and a field goal by Ryan Succop with 2:27 left in the third quarter to make it a one-score game, 24-17. After both teams exchanged punts, the Saints offense took over from their own 39-yard line with 14:03 remaining in the game.

Up to this point, the Saints offense had registered 19 yards in the entire third quarter, as the Bucs defense absolutely dominated the period from start to finish. But all that changed on one blown coverage that seemed almost inexplicable when it happened.

The Turning Point

After a first down incompletion to Alvin Kamara, the Saints faced a 2nd-and-10 from their own 39-yard line. From the TV angle, it looks like the Bucs are in quarters coverage with Jamel Dean and Andrew Adams splitting their side of the field (to the boundary). The Saints ran two verticals to that side of the field, which the Bucs were obviously well-prepared for, and I simply have no idea what happened with Jamel Dean on this play.

There’s nothing else Dean could possibly be looking at on this play, unless he’s staring at the Drew Brees pump fake. With no other threats in his zone, I still don’t know how he lets Jared Cook run right by him up the sideline for a 46-yard gain. This is basic stuff, and the second-year defender’s mistake turned the entire game back in the Saints favor. Four plays later, the Bucs finished off the final 15 yards in the end zone, taking a 31-17 lead they would not relinquish.

Dean’s mistake not only helped waste an outstanding second half by the Bucs defense, but it also added to a frustrating litany of self-inflicted mistakes by Tampa Bay’s defensive unit that detracted from what could have been a statement game. Earlier in the contest, Jordan Whitehead’s pass interference penalty on a 3rd-and-14 pass that Sean Murphy-Bunting batted down to force what would have been a Saints punt, instead resulted in a Saints touchdown.

Then, late in the second quarter, Brees was able to get Vita Vea to jump offsides on a 4th-and-2 hard count, giving the Saints a fresh set of downs from the Bucs 42. Those two back-breaking penalties helped give the Saints struggling offense life in the first half, but the ship had been somewhat righted by a 10-0 Bucs run in the third quarter.

All that changed on Dean’s gaffe in coverage, and although there was plenty of blame to go around on the Bucs roster and coaching staff, that mistake was the turning point in the game, crushing the Bucs comeback hopes and giving the Saints the lead they needed to close out a Week 1 victory.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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7 months ago

I completely agree, those were all boneheaded plays!! I thought Vita Vera was going to start dominating this year and again he does nothing!!

Reply to  Bucco-Bruce
7 months ago

definitely not looking like anything special

7 months ago

I thought the turning point was the QB INT’S. Burst the bubble around TB, Saints D wasn’t afraid of him at all, if they ever were.

Reply to  Dman
7 months ago

Have to agree also the times we actually went deep and were aggressive we scored… we tried to protect Brady too much and were too timid and conservative and he still threw picks. Got to open up the playbook and also have to use Evans and Godwin waaaaay more

Hockey Duckie
Reply to  Dman
7 months ago

Brady’s miscommunication was bad, but not as bad as throwing behind WR Watson on that pick-6.

Hockey Duckie
7 months ago

There were a lot of turning points.

PI in the end zone by S Whitehead (iirc) and SMB nearly intercepted it.
DT Vea’s neutral zone infraction on 4th-and-2 was devastating.
Dean cheating to look back at Brees instead of staying with his man.
Cappa not getting any block on the block FG attempt.

7 months ago

Yes, this was a major turning point. But it was Mike “dumbdumb” Edwards that truly blew the game on one of the dumbest special teams plays I’ve ever seen.

7 months ago

I totally agree. The game was turning in our favor and N.O had done nothing in the second half. Then Dean’s lazy ass coverage flipped the momentum and game. It led to a Saints TD and then to the terrible kick coverage after the TD. Still, there were plenty of other bad plays. The Brady pick 6, Veta’s offside, Cappa’s horrible blocking on the FG, and Edwards complete bonehead play on the short kickoff. That was hard to understand what the heck he was thinking. I still have faith but the O line is going to be the teams downfall… Read more »

7 months ago

A lot of numbskull mistakes. From the quarterback, to the defense, to special teams. I think in some ways that is encouraging because if you get rid of a handful of plays the Bucs measured up great against a great team. On the flip side most football games come down to a few plays and the Bucs screwed themselves on what seven different occasions? Two picks, special teams turnover, whiffed block on FG, blown coverages and two horrendous penalties. And let’s not forget Smith getting beaten like a drum all game. Bucs got their work cut out for them.

Last edited 7 months ago by PatrioticChief