A third consecutive win for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon helped them remain top of the NFC South with a 31-24 victory at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Another game in which a garbage time score for the opponents made the win look less impressive than it was, the Saints were dominant and controlled the majority of the game. Two Touchdowns either side of halftime sealed it for the Saints, Teddy Bridgewater showing what he can do on offense with a HUGE game for Michael Thomas. Let’s look in to these players in more detail on all sides of the ball.
Start with my standout player of the game, which is of course, Michael Thomas. A massive day for the wideout in black and gold. Thomas had 11 catches for 182 yards, a long of 42 yards to start the second half and 2 Touchdowns. Can’t Guard Mike lived up to his name in this one with different styles of catch. Strong catch and runs, go up and get it catches as well as clever route running to break from his man to get open. Thomas was Bridgewater’s guy in this game against a very weak secondary it must be noted. However, you can’t deny his quality as well as awareness. The first score he had the presence of mind to dive and the pylon with the second score a delicious catch, spin and drive forward. Keep up the good work MT13 *Flexes Biceps*.
The man throwing the ball to Thomas (on the most part) Mr. Teddy Bridgewater. Sunday was Teddy’s best game in a Saints uniform. 26/34 for 314, 4 touchdowns and a pick which was unlucky at worst as he slightly under threw Alvin Kamara, hit his hip and popped up to the Bucs defender for the interception. Bridgewater looked assured in his game and you can see Sean Payton trusts him more now. The playbook is expanding, we saw Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara both throwing passes in this one.
As mentioned in my preview something had to give and Teddy threw some deep balls targeting the Bucs bad secondary unit and without Carlton Davis who got ejected for a helmet to helmet hit. The protection was good, and Bridgewater found a rhythm after that early pick and was the QB of the future we were all hoping to see.
Let’s talk Alvin Kamara, I’ve seen a few comments saying it wasn’t his best game. Well he still got 104 yards from scrimmage and threw a completed pass for 13 yards, it just wasn’t the 150-200 yards we see on a regular basis from Kamara. He still managed to slip and slide out of tackles using that balance we know all about. Opposing teams know he is the guy because of his dual threat (maybe triple with that passing ability….) so will target him more. In this game as well, the Bucs have a good rush defense, so credit to them even though the Saints doubled the usual rush yards allowed.
I liked the fact the tight ends got a bit more involved this week too. 80 reception yards between Josh Hill and Jared Cook and a TD. Hopefully the production will continue for these guys.
Excellent protection from the Saints O-Line with no sacks allowed and kept the big star Shaq Barrett down to nothing, nada, zilch, well 2 tackles but no big time plays, not even a pressure. The line also created a few nice holes for the run plays. Especially when Latavius Murray rushed for a first. The biggest thing for the O-Line was the fact the number of penalties decreased massively. They seem to be more comfortable with Teddy in charge now.
Let’s flip over to defense.
Another great showing by this Saints defense, although they didn’t get any turnovers this week, they certainly performed to a high level with 6 sacks on the night. A couple of interceptions were chalked off by penalties, one by the Saints, one by the Bucs – the delay of game penalty an annoyance for the Saints in that one. Details about players below.
Marshon Lattimore shut Mike Evans down. 0 receptions. 0 yards. He’s back, he’s really back. Two games in a row Lattimore has been outstanding. He didn’t allow Evans a beat with some really tight coverage. He’s proved the haters wrong and stepped up in brilliant style. In the last two weeks, Lattimore has covered two of the better receivers in the league and barely given up anything. Keep it up Latt!
Switching to the other side, Eli Apple had a low-key great game. Rated as the highest defender on PFF grades. Even though he did allow catches, his grade is higher due to more targets. Mainly covering Godwin, he did allow a touchdown in coverage however he stopped Godwin getting his usual really high scores. Other Godwin catches were on different players.
Going to D-Line, first player is Marcus Davenport. In probably his best game for New Orleans, Davenport got 2 sacks, a forced fumble, a TFL plus 3 quarterback hits. Davenport was a beast, strong hits, speed, physicality and aggressiveness only some of his great qualities. I was hoping that Davenport would come good this year and he was proved he is the guy next to Cam Jordan. Both Davenport and Jordan will be important in next week’s game, especially with Trey Hendrickson likely to remain out.
Jordan himself got a sack, leading the defensive team from the front as he always does. Although he mentioned he “missed a couple of sacks” the QB does sometimes slip out of your hands. In one drive alone, the Saints achieved 3 sacks. Sheldon Rankins shimmied his way into one with his first since the injury. Two plays later Carl Granderson picked up his sack before Jordan tacked his on one the very next play.
Wil Lutz hit all his kicks, as per.
Thomas Morstead punted well when required, as per. Still no touchbacks yet for the Saints punter.
Deonte Harris looks like he can make a play anytime he catches the ball, issue being, actually catching the ball. Another fumble from Harris but fortunately the Saints recovered so it didn’t cost them.
Another game chalked off, another win. This time the offense came to the party. So, since Drew Brees left with that injury, the Saints have won all 3 games with Teddy Bridgewater as a starter. The team win, the defensive win and now a more offensive win but still with some defense turning up.
The Saints march on to Jacksonville in week 6. A potential banana skin is this one with Rookie Gardner Minshew looking like he’s been around the NFL for a while. The Jags have some good deep threat receivers, something that Saints struggled with in the early season and have LSU product Leonard Fournette getting back to his best. With the way the Saints are playing right now, it should be a really good match-up, the “winning in the trenches” mentality could be vital in this one.
Until next time……