It was sloppy. It was ugly. It was a win. As long as the third statement holds, the previous two don’t really matter. The New Orleans Saints marched into Tampa Bay and, despite Mother Nature’s effort in keeping the game from happening, were able to pull out a close 16-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the boot of Garrett Hartley. Drew Brees showed why he gets paid the big bucks as he led the offense into field goal range to set up Hartley for a chip shot. Despite Brees’ heroics, this game belonged to the defense.
The defense built on their performance against Atlanta with another great performance against the Buccaneers. The only points put up by Tampa Bay were a pick six thrown by Brees and a touchdown given up on a short field after Brees threw an interception early. What makes this effort even more impressive is that the Saints are doing it with essentially second string players. This week there was no Brodrick Bunkley, but rookie John Jenkins stepped in and played well consistently taking on two defenders holding up the line of scrimmage. The defense wasn’t perfect as they allowed 144 yards to Doug Martin, but they were able to hold Martin to a lot of runs of less than 3 yards. In addition, they limited Freeman to a pedestrian 125 yards while also forcing two timely turnovers.
The Saints offense, though prolific when it counted, was sluggish and out of sync for the second straight week. The offense wasn’t able to get a single point in the red zone, and got nothing going on the ground. Brees was sloppy throwing 2 interceptions which each led to scores for the Buccaneers. The sloppy weather might have contributed to the sluggishness, but it doesn’t excuse the turnovers. The only player to have a really good game was Jimmy Graham who had 179 yards and a touchdown. The Buccaneers’ spending spree on the secondary sure paid off as the Saints’ receivers combined for less than 100 yards. All around, the Saints offense just does not look the same.
The Saints still have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball, but it is nice to win while the coaching staff works out all the kinks. However, the Saints need to be crisper because they aren’t going to play teams like the Bucs that are just going to give away yards through penalties like they did this game. Nonetheless, the saying still holds; it is better to win ugly than to lose pretty.