Bucs close out season on last second touchdown; Saints still win NFC South.
In my preview of this week’s game, I mentioned that the Bucs had to stop/slow down Saints rookie stand out, Alvin Kamara. Early on it didn’t look like that was going to happen. Tampa took their opening drive of the game in for a touchdown. The drive was capped off by a Peyton Barber TD run. This put the Bucs up 7-0, while taking a little more than 5 and a half minutes off the clock.
Then Kamara struck. On the ensuing kickoff, Kamara looked like he was going to down it in the end zone only to change his mind and subsequently take it back for 106 yards and the game tying score.
The next drive for the Buccaneers was a sign of things to come for Jameis Winston. On the seventh play of what looked to be a promising drive, Winston threw a pass that was intended for Mike Evans and it ended up getting picked off by the Saints Marcus Williams. This was Winston’s first interception since their Week 14 matchup against the Lions.
On New Orleans first offensive drive of the game and Drew Brees’ first pass of the game he found Michael Thomas for 43 yards. A couple of plays later, guess who scored the Saints next touchdown? If you guessed Alvin Kamara, you would be correct.
All things considered, the Bucs defense did a good job of keeping the Saints rushing game in check. New Orleans rushed the ball a total of 26 times for a total of 92 yards. Good for only 3.5 yards per carry.
Tampa looked to tie the game in the 2nd Quarter when Jameis Winston took it in from one yard out. That rushing touchdown by Winston was his first of the season. Patrick Murray missed the extra point, however. The miss was Murray’s first of the season. He had hit his previous 20 attempts, but it looked like this one was going to loom large.
Later in the quarter, the Saints tried to get a little tricky. New Orleans lined up for what was looking to be a go-ahead field goal. Instead Will Lutz took the ball to the right and nearly got his head taken off by Kwon Alexander. This should have been a momentum builder for the Bucs.
It didn’t turn out that way though. A couple of plays into the drive and right after the two minute warning, Winston threw his second interception of the game. Once again, this interception happened in plus territory, with a chance to add some points.
By the time we got to halftime, the Bucs had an advantage in a number of statistical categories. Tampa had 10 more first downs and outgained the Saints 233 to 125. The Bucs were also outstanding on 3rd down. Converting on 10 of 11 tries. The one stat that mattered, the scoreboard, they trailed.
The Bucs defense held Brees to only 86 yards passing in the first half.
The defense continued to slow down the Saints offense to start the second half. On New Orleans’ first drive, Tampa forced a punt and looked to the offense to build some momentum. That’s not at all what happened. Marcus Williams ended up intercepting his second pass of the game. This one came in the end zone and again took potential points off the board.
Then the sea-saw battle started.
New Orleans turned that turnover into points. There was no trickery this time as Lutz hit a 48 yard field goal to give the Saints a 17-13 lead.
To start the 4th Quarter, the Bucs got a huge boost from their special teams. Tommy Lee Lewis was stripped of the ball on a punt return and Isaiah Johnson scooped it up and took it in for the touchdown. This gave the Bucs a 20-17 lead.
Midway through the quarter Brees found Zach Line on a three yard touchdown pass to put the Saints up again. This time by the score of 24-20. The next drive, Patrick Murray hit a 42 yard field to cut the Saints lead to 24-23. It looked like that missed extra point early in the game was going to loom large.
The Bucs forced a punt of the Saints on their next drive. This set the stage for the Bucs final act of the season.
Tampa got the ball back with just under 2 minutes to go and 95 yards in front of them. It looked a little sketchy as Winston made a bad decision on a throw that looked like it should have been picked off. The Bucs made good on their second chance as Winston found Chris Godwin for 39 yards and the go-ahead score. Winston hooked up with Mike Evans on the two point conversion giving the Bucs a 31-24 lead. A lead which they would not surrender.
For the game, Chris Godwin had himself a day. He finished with seven receptions for 111 yards and that game winning score. Winston was able to overcome his mistakes and finished with 363 yards passing and that lone touchdown.
Well, the season is now over and it’s time to focus on free agency and the draft (The Bucs will have the 7th overall pick). One thing we know for sure is that head coach, Dirk Koetter will be back as head coach for the 2018 season. Let’s hope that the 2018 season is a lot more successful than the 2017 season turned out to be.
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