The Bucs started the game out hot by forcing the Saints to punt on their opening drive, then scoring on a Tom Brady rushing touchdown when they first had the ball. But as the game went on, the Bucs continued to make mental errors on both sides of the ball, spoiling the debut of the Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski era in a 34-23 loss.
These were the most impressive Bucs players from the game.
CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
Murphy-Bunting was making plays all over the field Sunday afternoon, particularly in the first half. Murphy-Bunting had a solid day making tackles in the open field, something difficult to do against a Saints’ offense that gets the ball into their playmakers hands as quickly as possible.
There was a big stop on Alvin Kamara, who would have broken a long run after the catch had Murphy-Bunting not made the play. There was also a couple of solid tackles made on Jared Cook on third down to prevent him from reaching the marker. He ended the day with five tackles and one tackle for loss.
ILB Devin White
You can see why his teammates voted White in as a captain in just his second year in the NFL. He tied for the team lead with 10 tackles and each play was impactful when he was involved. White had a great stop on Alvin Kamara after a reception where it looked like he was going to burst up the field with a running start, but the Bucs linebacker tossed Kamara down for a loss. White also had a nice pass breakup on a throw to Latavius Murray in the flat later in the game.
ILB Lavonte David
There has been a lot of hype that David and White could be the top duo at linebacker in the league, and they lived up to the billing on Sunday in New Orleans. David’s big highlight play came late in the third quarter when he tackled Taysom Hill for a seven-yard loss on an important third down. This gave the ball back to the Bucs’ offense with a chance to tie the game up, as the score was 24-17 at the time. David tied with White for a team leading 10 tackles, and set the tone for the defense with two tackles for loss.
WR Chris Godwin
The offense had their issues in the game, but it wasn’t because Godwin. We saw the same kind of Godwin that made his first Pro Bowl a year ago, showing a great combination of making plays down the field, while also picking up yards after the catch. It started early for Godwin when he made the first reception of the season on a 29-yard pass from Brady. He continued to make plays late, snagging a difficult catch over the middle and absorbing a big hit while doing so. Godwin ended with six receptions for 79 yards.
WR Scotty Miller
Along with Godwin, it was Miller that looked in sync with Brady on Sunday in New Orleans. Miller looks much more comfortable with the playbook in his second year. Brady was hitting Miller at all different distances on the field, with his best play coming on a 37-yard pass down the left side of the field that eventually set the Bucs up for a score. Miller was very reliable for the Bucs’ offense even when the unit was struggling to get in-sync. His 73 receiving yards on five receptions was a career best for him.
RT Tristan Wirfs
In somewhat of a surprise, Wirfs was the better of the two offensive tackles that started on the Bucs’ offensive line. The rookie first-round pick had a tough match-up heading into his NFL debut against defensive end Cam Jordan, and he played very well while preventing Jordan from recording a sack in the game. You didn’t hear Wirfs name too much, which is always a good thing for an offensive lineman. It was a good start for the rookie, who the Bucs will be counting on this season.