The New Orleans Saints were able to move to 8-2 on the season after defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) 34-17 at Raymond James Stadium in Week 11. Overall, it was an overall dominating display for the Saints on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, Drew Brees was extremely efficient, completing 28 of his 35 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile Alvin Kamara was able to rack up yards in bunches, which helped the unit dominate time of possession. As for the defense, they were able to pressure Jameis Winston all afternoon and forced four turnovers.
With the Bucs, it was Winston's inaccuracy that was a big part of their undoing -- stop me if you've heard this before.
To get a more in-depth breakdown of how this game unfolded, check out our takeaways below.
Why the Saints won
New Orleans was able to get on the Bucs pretty early in this game, scoring two field goals and two touchdowns in their first four offensive possessions. Even as they were settling for field goals on their first two possessions, they were finding success on the ground and dominating time of possession. As the went into the locker room for halftime, the Saints had the ball for 21:05 in the first half, while Tampa has the ball for just 8:55. In the end, New Orleans had 37-to-23 minute time of possession advantage.
Eventually, Tampa started making mistakes and the Saints were quick to exploit them. The first came after Bucs tight end O.J. Howard bobbled a pass from Jameis Winston that was intercepted by Demario Davis at the Tampa Bay 16-yard line at the end of the first quarter. Drew Brees was able to walk on the field and on the next play connected with Michael Thomas for the first touchdown of the game.
Alvin Kamara was also a force within the Saints offense, especially early in the game. He totaled 75 rushing yards and added 47 receiving yards, while catching all ten of his targets.
Unlike their loss to the Falcons last week where Brees was sacked six times, the veteran Saints quarterback had a clean pocket for the bulk of the afternoon and wasn't sacked at all. Meanwhile, the New Orleans defense was able to get after Jameis Winston all afternoon and that pressure helped them force four turnovers.
Why the Buccaneers lost
Jameis Winston did not have himself a memorable day. While his first interception was hardly his fault, the next three were. He was under siege by the Saints pass rush a great amount in this game, but he was also missing throws when he was looking at a clean pocket. Winston particularly struggled throwing the deep ball in this game and that is why Mike Evans and Chris Godwin combined for just one catch in the first half as the Saints were building their lead.
Not only were Winston's throws inaccurate, that inaccuracy was coming at less than ideal times. With just under six minutes to play in the game and down only 10, Winston was in the shotgun four straight times, threw three incompletions and an intercpetion returned for a touchdown to ice the game. If you want to be a starting quarterback in the NFL for a long time, you have to at least get a field goal in that situation.
Winston, however, wasn't the only reason for the loss for Tampa as their defense didn't exactly do the offense any favors. They provided little to no pressure on Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara was able to average 5.8 yards per carry in this game.
Penalties also played a part in this one for the Bucs. On the opening drive, back-to-back infractions turned what would have been a 50-plus yard field goal for the Saints into a 44-yarder for Will Lutz. Meanwhile, an offensive pass interference call on Mike Evans (that was questionable), killed a late fourth quarter drive as they were trying to mount a comeback.
This was the most damming throw by Winston. The Bucs had the ball and were down just 10 points with five minutes to play when he completely overthrew his receiver and put it right into the arms of Marcus Williams, who returned it 55 yards for a touchdown that completely iced the game for New Orleans.
Play of the Game
This was just a remarkable all-around play for the Saints offense. Not only was Jared Cook able to turn his body around, leap, and make the catch, while staying in bounds, Drew Brees throw the perfect touch pass as he was leaping up in the air himself. Jared Cook finished with just two catches for 33 yards, but was able to extend the Saints lead to 20 points in the first half.
While he was able to get a touchdown, Cooks was flagged a number of times in this game for holding, including one that negated an Alvin Kamara touchdown. That'll be something he'll need to correct going forward.
"We still think we've got better football ahead of us, but I was proud how we responded from last week," said Saints head coach Sean Payton.
it's a rather simple quote, but it's poignant. New Orleans was shellshocked by the Atlanta Falcons last week and only managed nine points on offense. Clearly they came into this contest with the incentive to step on the gas early and put up points in bunches. The fact that they were able to come out in this game and re-establish their offense, goes a long way in solidifying themselves as legit Super Bowl contenders going forward. The more they can make last week look like an anomaly, the better.
From here, the Saints will head back to New Orleans to take on the Carolina Panthers, while the Bucs will travel to Atlanta to take on the red hot Falcons in Week 12.