There’s nothing more disconcerting than a division loss. Well, except for maybe a nearly-flawless first half, followed by an ugly second half.
At the end of the half, the Bucs led in time of possession, first downs, the turnover margin, and most importantly the score. The Saints tallied an abysmal 3 yards rushing on 9 carries. Drew Brees threw his fourth interception of the season.
The Buccaneers even came out strong after the half, with a Carl Nassib strip sack with a JPP recovery early in the third quarter. However, the momentum changed after back-up quarterback Taysom Hill blocked a Bryan Anger punt. After that, it was game-on for the Saints.
They ended the game with 298 total yards, 100 of those rushing. They led us in time of possession with 31:53 to our 28:07. They even made a garbage time interception on Winston, breaking his three-game streak.
The offensive line was just offensive. In addition to the penalties, Winston was sacked four times and hit 10. Winston made several bad passes with defenders in his face that would have been costly against a better secondary.
Overall, the first half will be forgotten and it will be characterized as an ugly game for the Bucs. Two missed field goals, perhaps attributable to the rain. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Jensen led to a heated exchange between him and Winston on the sideline right before the half. A failure to execute on both sides of the ball.
The Saints were able to clinch the division and a playoff berth today with their win and the Panthers loss. Questions about the future of the Buccaneers have resurfaced.