Saints Blow a Thirteen Point Fourth Quarter Lead In Last Second Loss to Tampa Bay
The Saints came into a pivotal Monday night matchup against the Tampa Bay Bucs with a record of 4-8. I know the word pivotal has been used a lot when talking about the Saints, but they are 1.5 games behind the Bucs for the division lead and are still very much in play for the playoffs. The NFC South has been unquestionably the worst division in football with the Bucs in first place with a 5-6 record. The Saints are 1-2 in the division and still have matchups against the Falcons and Panthers remaining. A win here would a long way toward keeping the Saints' post-season hopes alive. With the stage set, let's see how the game went down.
Brady and the offense came out on fire as they kept the Saints off balance e with a great mix of run and pass as they quickly worked their way deep into New Orleans territory. Leonard Fournette played a big role as the Bucs got closer to the end zone as he continued to churn his way for first downs. The Saints' defense stiffened when it mattered and stopped Fournette on third-and-goal to force a field goal. The kick was up and good as Tampa went up 3-0 in the first.
The Saints couldn't get anything going on offense as Andy Dalton was sacked on third down to force a three-and-out. The Saints wouldn't allow for Tampa's offense to get going this time around as they force a punt back to Dalton and the offense.
Dalton would get something going as he hit Rashid Shaheed on a long ball that got the Saints past mid-field. The quarter would come to an end with the Saints facing a third-and-eight in Tampa territory.
Dalton's pass to Adam Trautman would fall incomplete and the Saints would punt it back to Brady and the Bucs. The Saints would continue to get stops on the defensive side of the ball as this one had all the makings of a defensive slug-fest early. It was Dalton's turn for a little success in the passing game now as he hit Shaheed and Trautman for a couple of first downs and worked their way into Tampa territory again. Dalton would cap the drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to the Swiss-army-knife, Taysom Hill. The Saints took a 7-3 lead with 7:33 remaining in the half.
The New Orleans defense seemed to settle into the game as they forced a third-straight Tampa Bay punt that Shaheed would field and get great a return into Bucs territory. A crucial drop from Chris Olave would force a punt as the Saints couldn't take advantage of the great field position. The Saints' defense continued to come up as Demario Davis get a huge interception, ending a Promising Bucs' drive.
Dalton would move the chains a couple of times through the air but couldn't convert on third-and-short. Will Lutz would take a 38-yard field goal to make a 10-7 with 25 seconds remaining. That is how the first half would come to end as the Saints' dominant defensive performance was the story of the game so far.
The Saints would get the ball to start the second half but looked sluggish as they did to start the game as the Bucs would force a three-and-out. The defense on the other hand came out just as hot as they were in the first half as Cam Jordan forced a fumble and the Saints would recover.
Dalton and the offense found their rhythm after the turnover as they would work their way deep inside Bucs' territory. The Saints would march their way inside the 5-yard-line before a crucial penalty would move the offense back to face a third down and seven. The pass to Taysom hill would come up short and the Saints would settle for a 21-yard field goal from Lutz to make it a 13-7 game with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter. Brady and the offense were able to move the ball past mid-field before the Saints tightened up and forced another punt to close out the quarter.
Dalton continued to be a difference maker through the air and a big 30-yard strike to Olave would move the ball deep in Tampa territory. The Saints faced a crucial third down and two but they couldn't convert. Lets would come out and hit his third field goal of the night to go up 16-3 with 8:02 left in the fourth.
The defense continued to dominate Tampa as they forced a quick three-and-out and gave the ball right back to Dalton and the offense. The Saints would match with a three-and-out of their own.
Brady and the Tampa offense would come out slinging the ball as they quickly moved past mid-field. A huge pass interference call on Paulson Adebo would give Tampa first and goal from the two-yard-line. Brady would capitalize on the very next play with a 2-yard touchdown pass. That score made it 16-10 with 3 minutes left in the game.
The offense couldn't kill much time once again as the Saints would go three-and-out on their next possession and give the ball back to Brady with 2:29 and one timeout remaining.
The Bucs would continue their hot streak on offense as they moved the ball efficiently as they worked deep into Saints territory. Brady would hit Julio Jones inside the five with 17 seconds remaining. Brady would hit Chris Godwin in the end zone but a holding penalty would bring it. The Bucs faced third and goal with 8 seconds remaining. Brady would Rashad White who would take in for the score to tie the game and the extra point would give Tampa a 17-16 lead with 3 seconds remaining.
Time would expire on the next possession as the Saints fall to 4-9 and the Bucs improve to 6-6 and take a commanding lead in the NFC South. The Saints will head into their bye-week after a tough loss and Tampa Bay will head to San Francisco.