The NOLA Saints had a tough task ahead of them with a date against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Once again, they handled the Bucs even without their head coach, winning 9-0 against the defending Super Bowl champs.
With the win, NOLA moves to 7-7 and the Bucs drop to 10-4 and move down in the playoff seeding. No one expected the Saints to not only win but to SHUT OUT the Buccaneers. Not with how terrific that offense was playing this year.
The Saints did it though.
Here are my takeaways from this game.
Both defenses dominated
Not making the playoffs might give New Orleans a higher draft pick but it seems like a disservice for this defense with how good its been this season to not make the postseason. This unit just went into Tampa Bay — a team with one of the best offenses in the league — and shut them out.
On the other side of the field, the Bucs’ defense only gave up nine points to the Saints. Now, yes, the Saints’ offense hasn’t performed well but they shut down Alvin Kamara and all in all played good enough to put their team in a position to win.
This was a defensive showing for sure but that was only expected to happen on one side. No one thought the Saints would shut out one of the best offenses in the league but that’s exactly what happened.
Lackluster offense from both sides
The Saints offense had success in the first quarter and Taysom Hill looked crisp on those two drives that resulted in points. He had some really nice throws to Marquez Callaway and was a big part of why the team got down the field and put points on the board.
Unfortunately, Hill couldn’t get much else going on the other offensive possessions and the offense struggled as a result. The defense did their part in keeping the Bucs out of the end zone but the offense failed to hold up their end of the bargain. If it wasn’t for Brett Maher (more on him in a bit), this game could have ended in a 0-0 tie with how well the defenses were playing.
Hill finished the game going 13-of-27 for 154 yards while rushing for 33 yards. Tom Brady went 26-of-48 for 213 yards and was picked off once. He might have thrown for more yards than Hill but that’s because his team was behind and he was forced to throw.
Hill outperformed Brady and thar’s another thing we didn’t expect to be saying when the clock hit triple zeros.
Let Callaway cook
Marquez Callaway had a game to remember and a lot of it came on the first few drives for the Saints. The former UDFA out of Tennesse finished this game with six receptions for 112 yards and it was clear that he and Hill had a nice connection.
Maybe Callaway wasn’t the WR1 that we were all hoping he’d be this year but the dude played well on Sunday night. Let’s give the kid some credit. Hopefully, it’s all uphill from here for Callaway.
Maher making kicks
If the Saints still had Aldrick Rosas or Brian Johnson or whoever the hell else has attempted kicks for the team this year, this game could have been much lower scoring. Fortunately, Brett Maher has turned NOLA into a kicking team, knocking through all three of his field-goal attempts.
The offense might have stalled time and time again but Maher didn’t. This dude won the game for his squad and it’s good to finally see some good kicker karma on New Orleans’ side.
Jordan makes history
This season has been a rough one for Cameron Jordan, as it took him until Week 7 to record his first sack of the season. He was up to four sacks on the year heading into this game and had 98.5 career sacks.
Well, after this game, Jordan is officially a member of the 100-sack club, after notching two on Tom Brady. Not only that but Jordan also forced the fumble in the third quarter that prevented the Bucs from scoring after they were driving down the field to try and put points on the board for the first time all night.
Jordan missed last week due to testing positive for COVID-19 and as Luke Johnson joked, he clearly made the most of that time off. He was on fire against Brady and the Bucs. He really did look like the 2019 version of himself.
With this win, the NOLA Saints are back to .500 on the year and continue to remain in the playoff hunt. We’ll see where they end up in the standings when the Tuesday games wrap up.
But for now, WHO DAT BABY!