The Saints dominated their goals (and the game)
In the turnover battle, the Saints were plus one, so we came out on top there.
But more importantly, we didn’t allow our turnovers to lead to points. The Saints fumbled twice, but neither fumble led to points. Tom Brady threw three interceptions against the Saints. That makes five of the seven picks he’s thrown this season against the Who Dats.
In the time of possession, the Saints doubled up the Bucs. The Saints had the ball over 40 minutes of the game and Tampa Bay had it under 20 minutes. It’s very hard to score when you don’t have the ball.
Our offensive and defensive fronts were absolutely masterful Sunday night. Our offensive line kept Drew Brees upright for the most part and Brees was spot on reading the blitzes and getting rid of the ball quickly.
The length of time the Black and Gold had the ball wore out their defense and the Saints finally loosened them up enough to run inside as well as off the edge in the second half.
Defensively, the Saints front lived in the Bucs’ backfield, rarely allowing Brady the time to set up and throw. Brady is used to the quick passing game in New England.
Tampa coach Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich saw an opportunity with their multiple big downfield threats to make big plays. But those plays take time and New Orleans’ defensive front didn’t allow Brady that time.
Every single defensive lineman had an outstanding game. Maybe the most notable stretch was late in the third quarter when Trey Hendrickson sacked Brady on three consecutive plays (the first was called back due to defensive holding).
I can’t ever recall a single player sacking the QB three consecutive plays.
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The Saints over the last three seasons have made a habit of being a stingy run defensive team. Sunday night was no exception.
In a stat line that may have never before been seen in professional football, the Saints held the Bucs to eight yards on five carries. The last carry was a kneel down to end the game, so in essence, it was nine yards on four carries.
They absolutely made the Tampa Bay team play a one-dimensional game, which played even more in the favor of the defensive line.
And the defensive backfield, which has not been solid this season, was as strong as they’ve ever been. Marshon Lattimore has made it his life’s mission to make Mike Evans’ job tough. While Lattimore covered Evans, Brady threw to him twice with no receptions.
As for the field position battle, Tampa Bay’s average starting field position was their own 22-yard line. The Saints’ average starting field position was their own 36-yard line.
Some NFL numbers guys like to talk about hidden yardage, the stats within the stats that aren’t always apparent. Starting your drive on average 14 yards closer to scoring is a huge statistic. That’s almost 1.5 fewer first downs needed per drive.
What’s more incredible – in the first half, if we exclude the last possession in which the Saints just knelt twice to end the half, the Saints’ average starting position was their own 49-yard line. So in the first six drives, the black and gold basically only needed to go an average of half the field to score.
The concern for Thomas Morestead was not necessary. He did punt once, in the third quarter. Wil Lutz kicked one field goal and none of his kickoffs resulted in the Bucs having any better field position than a touchback would have given them.
Deonte Harris only had two kickoff return possibilities. The first was coming out of halftime and the second after the Bucs’ field goal, and that kick went out of bounds. He didn’t even get a lot of punt return chances because the Saints got the ball on three takeaways and on turnovers on downs twice.
So the special teams’ battles didn’t really come into play.