Breaking down the turning point in Saints' loss to Bucs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

We never like to blame the refs but...the officiating in the Week 2 Saints-Bucs matchup was atrocious and completely changed the game.

For anyone jumping on the Saints' bandwagon in 2022, hold on a moment. NOLA looked just as bad offensively as they did in 2021, and this game unfortunately proved that this new-look Saints squad still needs a lot of work.

It's not fair to put all the blame on the refs given how poorly the Saints' offense played in Week 2, but the refs did make a pair of back-to-back questionable calls that crucially shifted the momentum of the game.

The first was on defensive back Bradley Roby, who in the fourth quarter made helmet-to-helmet contact with a Bucs wide receiver that the refs deemed "unnecessary roughness." That nullified a third-down stop and gave Tom Brady a new set of downs.

The second was an arguably soft call on Cam Jordan for defensive holding on a second down at New Orleans' 38-yard line. Brady threw a touchdown pass a few downs later, and the Bucs took a 10-3 lead late in the fourth quarter.

Saints-Bucs Week 2 matchup is marred by poor officiating

Not to mention earlier that quarter, the refs threw out both Bucs' Mike Evans and Saints' Marshon Lattimore for a feisty on-field brawl that NOLA didn't start.

Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette actually shoved Lattimore first, Lattimore gave him a shove back, and Mike Evans then intervened and bulldozed Lattimore to the ground.

Alas, the refs aren't to blame for this loss. Jameis Winston in particular played a game he'll want to forget, recording three picks in the fourth quarter (including a pick-6) and failing to generate any rhythm in the first three quarters.

Sound familiar? Winston also got off to a slow start against the Falcons in the season-opener, but he managed to pull off an unlikely comeback late in the game. Against a much tougher Bucs defense, Winston got totally stuffed -- he did throw a touchdown to Michael Thomas, but it was too little too late.

The narrative from 2021 remains the same: the Saints' defense played a nearly-perfect game, yet the offense simply couldn't execute.

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NOLA had been digging their own grave all game -- the refs just buried them with those two fourth quarter calls. Let's hope for a bounce-back performance in Week 3.