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Week 1 Game Recap: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, New Orleans Saints 24
What you need to know
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
The Buccaneers showed the toughness we're accustomed to seeing in the first half, taking a 10-7 lead into the locker room behind a 26 yard interception return by CB Philip Buchanon. However, the Tampa Bay defense could not keep the high powered Saints offense in check, allowing scoring plays of 39, 84 and 42 yards. Despite allowing 438 yards of offense, the Buccaneers had a chance to win the game, but those efforts failed when QB Jeff Garcia was intercepted by New Orleans LB Scott Fujita with under a minute left in the game.
Despite having success running the ball to the tune of over seven yards per carry, Tampa Bay QB Jeff Garcia attempted 41 passes and finished with 221 yards, one touchdown and the aforementioned interception on the last drive of the game.
WR Joey Galloway usually has his way with the New Orleans secondary, but looked rusty after not doing much this offseason. Galloway still finished with six receptions for 56 yards, but his timing with QB Jeff Garcia looked off on a number of routes.
|New Orleans Saints|
The Saints offense appears to be just as explosive as last season, and QB Drew Brees is back to taking full advantage of all of the weapons at his exposure. Brees, who threw for 343 yards, connected on three long scoring strikes of over 30 yards to three different receivers, and the offense did not miss a beat despite playing without RB Deuce McAllister, who dressed and was on the active list but did not take the field.
Without McAllister, it was a Reggie Bush / Pierre Thomas combination in the backfield, and the duo combined for over 100 yards rushing. Bush did most of his damage in the passing game, catching eight passes for 112 yards, including a 42 yard touchdown reception.
The New Orleans receivers made the most of their opportunities, with the bulk of the passing yards coming on single, long pass receptions. While WR Marques Colston was held in check, Devery Henderson and David Patten each scored on their only reception of the game, and TE Jeremy Shockey debuted with six receptions for 54 yards in his first game as a Saint.
What you ought to know
|QB Jeff Garcia, Pass: 24 - 41 - 221 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0|
Jeff Garcia had one of his normal outings, throwing for 221 yards, one touchdown and one interception. After missing most of the preseason with an injury, Garcia looked a little rusty and his timing just a bit off for Tampa Bay in the opener. Part of that could have been rust, and part could have been shaky protection from his offensive line. Garcia was rushed on most of his throws, including the ones he completed. His timing with WR Joey Galloway was noticeable on a few incompletions, and on others he was able to complete with his wideout, better timing could have resulted in bigger plays. Garcia's lone touchdown pas came on a two yard connection with WR Ike Hilliard in the fourth quarter to give the Buccaneers a 20-17 lead, but after the Saints answered to take a 24-20 lead, Garcia was intercepted with 40 seconds left, ending the Buccaneers chance for an opening week victory.
|RB Earnest Graham, Rush: 10 - 91 - 0, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (3 targets)|
Graham had success running the ball against the Saints, rushing ten times for 91 yards, but unfortunately for him and the Buccaneers, they turned to more of an aerial attack and couldn't translate that success into big yardage totals. At the same time, Graham split carries with Warrick Dunn nearly 50/50, with Dunn chipping in with nine rushes. Graham was targeted three times in the passing game, catching all three for a total of 27 yards.
|RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 9 - 54 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)|
Warrick Dunn showed flashes of why Tampa Bay sought his services on the free agent market this year, rushing nine times for 54 yards and catching one pass for 11 yards. Dunn received nine carries to starter Earnest Graham's ten, so while he excels in the passing game, it looks as if Dunn will be called on to help the running game as well. To somewhat of a surprise, Dunn was targeted just one time in the passing game, despite QB Jeff Garcia attempting 41 throws.
|WR Ike Hilliard, Rec: 6 - 45 - 1 (6 targets)|
Ike Hilliard caught all six passes thrown his way for 45 yards, including a two yard touchdown reception on a third and goal situation. Of his six receptions, four of them resulted in first downs.
|WR Joey Galloway, Rec: 6 - 56 - 0 (13 targets)|
Joey Galloway was Tampa Bay's most targeted receiver, getting 13 looks from Garcia, and he finished with a team leading nine receptions for 56 yards. While the reception total is nice, the seven yards per catch is something the Buccaneers certainly would have liked to be higher. Galloway usually shreds the Saints secondary, but in this game was held without a big play with his longest catch just 13 yards. Galloway got four third down targets, and Garcia did take his chances with him on a few deep routes. However, it just seemed that the timing was off between the QB and this speedy wideout after each missed most of the preseason.
|WR Antonio Bryant, Rec: 3 - 43 - 0 (9 targets)|
Antonio Bryant showed promise in his first game for Tampa Bay, catching three passes for 43 yards. While his totals didn't amount for much, it wasn't for lack of opportunity. QB Jeff Garcia looked Bryant's way nine times for the game, making the wideout his second most targeted receiver. Two of Bryant's targets came on third downs, and the Buccaneers attempted to get the ball to him on a few deep routes, so it looks like Garcia has developed some trust in Bryant.
|TE Alex Smith, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (4 targets)|
Smith was targeted four times and finished with just two receptions for 19 yards. One positive though, is neither of Tampa Bay's two newly acquired TE's, Ben Troupe and John Gilmore, were not involved in the passing game at all.
|PK Matt Bryant 2 - 2 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 8 points|
Bryant connected on both of his field goal attempts from 37 and 33 yards out and made good on both of his extra point attempts to finish with eight points in the game.
|TB Rush Defense|
The Buccaneers played well against the run, allowing 101 yards on 27 carries for a 3.7 ypc average. They were able to limit the big plays the Saints got on the ground and did not give up a rushing score for the game. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay didn't have the same amount of success defending the pass.
LB Barrett Rudd led the way defensively with nine solo tackles and one assist and DB Tanard Jackson, who was all over the field, totaled seven solo tackles in the Buccaneers' secondary.
|TB Pass Defense|
Tampa Bay was picked apart by Drew Brees, who threw for over 340 yards and three touchdowns. Not only should the high yardage total be a concern, but all three scores came on plays of over 30 yards, something the vaunted Tampa 2 scheme is supposed to limit. A big reason why the Saints had such success throwing the ball was the lack of pressure applied to Brees in the pocket. The Buccaneers were able to get to Brees for just one sack and he was able to get way too comfortable dropping back on passing situations. About the only positive for the Tampa Bay pass defense was DB Philip Buchanon's first quarter interception return for a touchdown.
|QB Drew Brees, Pass: 23 - 32 - 343 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -2 - 0|
Drew Brees showed just why he is a top fantasy option at QB, throwing for 343 yards on 23 of 32 passing and adding three touchdowns against one of the better, most physical defenses in the league. He took advantage of all of his weapons, connecting on scoring strikes to WR's David Patten and Devery Henderson as well as RB Reggie Bush. Those scoring plays came from 39, 84 and 42 yards out, respectively. The only negative for Brees for the game was his first quarter interception that Tampa Bay DB Philip Buchanon returned for Tampa Bay's first score of the game. Brees did lose a fumble, but fortunately for the Saints they were able to recover it.
|RB Reggie Bush, Rush: 14 - 51 - 0, Rec: 8 - 112 - 1 (9 targets)|
Reggie Bush showed just how valuable he is to the Saints offense, as he finished with over 160 total yards. Of those yards, 51 came on 14 rushes, and 112 came through the air on eight receptions. Bush showed his big play ability on a 42 yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. One observation of Bush is that although he totaled just 51 yards rushing, he looked more decisive and didn't seem to dance as much as he did last year. While it didn't translate to much against Tampa Bay, that could be a positive sign for his rushing abilities as the season goes on.
|RB Pierre Thomas, Rush: 10 - 52 - 0, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)|
Without McAllister, Pierre Thomas was ready to help carry the New Orleans rushing attack. Thomas actually started the game and opened the first drive with a carry, and finished with ten rushes for 52 yards on the ground. Thomas was also targeted two times in the passing game, catching both passes for 11 yards. He looks like a very versatile, talented back and his play could help the Saints limit McAllister's work and keep him healthy and fresh throughout the season.
|RB Deuce McAllister|
McAllister dressed for the game but did not see the field for the Saints.
|WR Marques Colston, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (6 targets)|
Colston was targeted six times, catching three passes for 26 yards. He was held in check by the Tampa Bay defense, but the attention he drew seemed to open up things downfield for the rest of his fellow wide receivers.
|WR Devery Henderson, Rec: 1 - 84 - 1 (2 targets)|
Henderson was targeted just twice, but hauled in one of those targets for an 84 yard touchdown reception for his only catch of the game. He showed he's still got that straight line speed to get behind the defense.
|WR David Patten, Rec: 1 - 39 - 1 (2 targets)|
Patten was targeted just two times in the game, but converted one of them into a 39 yard touchdown reception for the Saints' first score of the season.
|TE Jeremy Shockey, Rec: 6 - 54 - 0 (6 targets)|
Jeremy Shockey finished with six receptions for 54 yards, and caught all six passes thrown his way. He seems to be fully recovered from his late season injury from 2007 and should be another valuable weapon for QB Drew Brees.
|PK Martin Gramatica 1 - 1 FG, 3 - 3 XP, 6 points|
Gramatica connected on a 34 yard field goal and added three successful extra point attempts to finish with six points for the game.
|NO Rush Defense|
The Saints still have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball, where they allowed 146 yards on 20 carries for a whopping 7.3 ypc average. Fortunately for New Orleans, Tampa Bay focused more on attacking the Saints through the air than on the run, which was confusing given their success on the ground throughout the game.
LB's Scott Fujita totaled seven solo tackles and one assist and newly acquired LB Jonathan Vilma added seven solo and two assisted tackles himself to lead the New Orleans defense.
|NO Pass Defense|
The Saints played well against the pass, allowing Jeff Garcia to throw for just 221 yards on 41 attempts and more importantly, were able to keep WR Joey Galloway from burning them downfield as he has in the past. The New Orleans front seven put constant pressure on Garcia, forcing hurried throws and throwing the timing off between Garcia and his receivers. As a result, the Buccaneers had zero plays of over 30 yards in the passing game.
DL's Charles Grant and Bobby McCray contributed for the Saints two sacks in the game, but LB Scott Fujita came up with the play of the game for the Saints, intercepting a late fourth quarter Garcia pass that iced the game for New Orleans. The secondary for the Saints played admirably against the Tampa Bay receivers, most notably WR Joey Galloway.