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Week 14 Game Recap: New Orleans Saints 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
What you need to know
Nothing about Sunday’s affair was especially jaw-dropping, but the Saints’ attack played very effectively to keep the game on their terms after establishing a quick 14-0 lead. Tim Hightower
was clearly the story of the day, as he toted the ball a whopping 28 times in relief of the injured Mark Ingram
. A 3.04 YPC average doesn’t jump out from the box score, but Hightower pitched in one solid carry after another to spearhead a meaningful ground game, and he killed the clock late with a handful of positive rushes. Ben Watson
and Willie Snead
were the main cogs for Drew Brees
through the air, as both won their coverage matchups consistently in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field. Individual fantasy value has proven to be a product of the overall success of this offensive unit, and the chances appear relatively high next Monday when the Saints play host to the Detroit Lions.
The Tampa Bay offense was without tackle Demar Datson, who has started several games this season, and WR Vincent Jackson
left the game in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury. The Tampa defense was without rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander, who is serving a 4 game suspension after starting the season as one of the top defensive ROY candidates. Kicker Connor Barth
was 2 for 2 on extra point attempts, and 1 of 2 on field goal attempts, narrowly missing a 47-yard attempt in the 3rd quarter. Tampa Bay was 4 of 11 on 3rd down attempts and 1 for 1 on 4th down conversions.
New Orleans Saints
|QB Drew Brees, 82 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 41 - 312 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 0 - 0|
Brees started off his day sharply, moving the chains with regularity en route to an opening touchdown drive. His prime beneficiaries were Brandin Cooks
and Benjamin Watson, but Marques Colston
capitalized in the endzone with a three-yard touchdown to put the Saints up 7-0. After getting the ball back in short order, Brees and the Saints were unable to pick up a first down on their second drive. New Orleans’ aerial attack found more success on their third possession, hooking up deep down the field to Willie Snead
on a blown coverage, then Ben Watson
over the middle on a severe mismatch. Audibling out of a goal-line run, Brees found Marques Colston
by the left pylon for a one-yard touchdown, the duo’s second of the young game. Starting off the day by hitting 12 of his first 13 passes, Brees ably led his team to a 14-0 lead. Brees and the Saints embarked on a 17-play drive to finish off the opening half, as Snead and Watson remained heavily involved. A costly sack in the red zone forced New Orleans to settle for a field goal, but numerous third downs were converted to ensure a successful clock-killing drive. At the half, the Saints held a 17-10 lead. The Saints established some offensive momentum to open the second half by continuing to spread the ball around through the air, but a punt was forced from shallow Tampa territory. Brees utilized efficient short passing to run five more minutes off the clock and cap off the third period. The offense rewarded Tim Hightower
with a three-yard touchdown to put the Saints up 24-10 with a quarter and change to play. To open the final frame, a series of underneath passing set up a fourth-and-short in which the Saints elected to punt. Two first downs on the following possession were enough to burn 3:34 off the clock, but a pair of incompletions and a costly penalty kept the Saints a yard away from a first down, in which they chose to punt once more. Relying on the legs of the capable , if not flashy Tim Hightower
, the Saints were able to run out the last four minutes on the clock to secure a 24-17 victory. Brees was efficient on the day, taking advantage of mismatches in coverage and hitting his receivers in tight windows. The offense played well as a unit once an early 14-0 lead was established. Brees is just a mid-range QB1 based on volume for the season’s homestretch.
|RB Tim Hightower, 58 offensive snaps, Rush: 28 - 85 - 1, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets)|
Hightower began his busy day on the ground with successive carries for three yards. His next carry occurred much later in the drive, as he showed impressive burst up the middle for 12 quick yards. For the majority of the day, Hightower served as a reliable option between the tackles to keep the offense on schedule. None of his individual runs stood out much, but his 28 carries provided the consistency that New Orleans needed to supplement its relatively successful aerial attack. His most impressive trait was short-area burst, allowing himself to get to the second level on numerous occasions. Hightower’s well-earned touchdown came late in the third quarter, a powerful three-yard carry up the middle to put his team up two scores. His lone reception of the day came on a well-blocked screen to the right flat for 10 yards. Additionally, Hightower played a critical role in killing the clock with consistent chunk runs to bleed the clock once New Orleans established a 24-10 lead late in the third period. Hightower’s volume lends reliable RB2 value in most formats going forward.
|RB C.J. Spiller, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 7 - 0 (3 targets)|
Spiller’s first touch of the day came on a swing pass to the left flat on his team’s second offensive drive, but it netted a loss of three. He caught another swing pass to the opposite flat on the next series, picking up eight yards and a first down. Spiller took an inside handoff from the three yard-line later in the drive, and came within a single yard of scoring. Spiller’s third touch of the day was yet another swing pass to the left flat that went for two more uneventful yards. He lost a single yard on a carry off left tackle midway through the fourth. If there was ever a time for increased opportunity, Mark Ingram
’s injury would be the spark, but Spiller is simply in the midst of a lost season.
|WR Willie Snead, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 122 - 0 (8 targets)|
Snead’s first reception of his busy day came over the middle midway through the first quarter, as he sat down underneath to pick up six yards and set up a New Orleans punt. He stayed involved early on the following drive, running a short curl to the left flat for five easy yards. A few plays later, Snead inexplicably ran into wide open space up the left sideline for a 41-yard gain to convert a third-and-long. Late in the second quarter, Snead ran a deep crossing route off play-action to pick up 23 yards and set up his team in plus territory. He caught a 14-yard curl route two plays later, getting just enough to move the chains. Early in the third period, Snead ran a quick slant from the right sideline for 19 yards to break the century mark. Snead came within a yard of a first down midway through the fourth on his final catch of the day, taking a short screen to the right flat for 14 yards before falling to an impressive tackle of Lavonte David. He served as the offense’s best playmaker throughout the day and is a bankable WR2/3 commodity provided he’s playing at 100% health.
To finish off New Orleans’ first drive, Colston won quick inside leverage to the back of the end zone, providing a big window for Brees to lay in a three-yard touchdown pass. With his quarterback clearly changing the play at the line, Colston ran a flat route to the left sideline before making a nifty over-the-shoulder one-yard catch for his second touchdown of the day. The veteran receiver stayed involved early on the following drive, taking a seven-yard out route to the left sideline. Early in the third quarter, Colston caught a one-step slant for six yards. He stayed in the mix early into the fourth quarter, sitting down over the middle of the field for seven yards to set up a fourth-and-short. Probably his most important reception of the day, Colston out-jumped and outfought Alterraun Verner over the middle of the field for a 12-yard pickup to set up a first down midway through the fourth. Old-man Colston vultured two touchdowns in a complementary underneath role, but doesn’t hold any fantasy value.
Coleman’s first reception came very late in the first half, a shallow slant from the left boundary that picked up six yards. Late in third quarter, Coleman ran a crossing route off play-action before making a nifty move after the catch to pick up 20 yards into enemy territory. His third and final catch of the day occurred when he came back to the football early in the final quarter to catch a wounded duck of a pass from Brees for six yards. He’s a distant fourth-option for Brees.
|WR Brandin Cooks, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (5 targets)|
On the third play of the day, Cooks ran a curl route from the right sideline for six yards to move the chains. Two plays later, Cooks ran up the left sideline for a 14-yard gain to set up third and short. The young receiver typically starts fast, and he looked to be on his way to a busy receiving day early. Cooks was targeted a few more times in the opening half, but didn’t earn a reception due to some errant throws up the left sideline. His final catch of the day occurred when he won inside leverage from the left slot before snagging a nine-yard gain between two Tampa defenders. After a busy first drive, Cooks went rogue for the majority of the game. He’s just a shaky WR2 in an inconsistent offense.
|TE Ben Watson, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 70 - 0 (11 targets)|
Watson’s first reception came on the fourth play of the day, a short two yard dump-off in the middle of the field off play-action. Just two downs later, Watson ran a wheel route up the left sideline for 26 yards to move his team into the redzone. Early in the second quarter on the successive drive, Watson ran a post route from the right slot for 19 yards to take the ball to the Tampa Bay three yard-line. Late in the first half, Watson snuck out of the backfield to catch a well-blocked screen pass for nine yards. The ball went back to the veteran tight end on the following play, as he leaped over his defender for seven yards near the left sideline to pick up a critical first down. Watson’s next reception came late in the third quarter when he ran a short stick pattern to the right seam, plucking the ball out of the air between two defenders for five yards. A second effort reaching over the sticks was enough for Ben Watson
late in the fourth quarter, as he took a rollout to the right flat for two yards to keep the game-ending drive intact. The reliable safety valve is a mid-range TE1 with a reasonably high floor.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|QB Jameis Winston, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 32 - 182 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 24 - 0|
Winston had a spotty day as a passer, completing 18 of 32 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. Though he was only sacked once, the Tampa Bay offensive line did struggle some with protection, and Winston extended several plays with rollouts and scrambles. On the day, he had 3 rushes for 24 yards total, shaking some tackles on his way to 18 of those yards and a first down on a 2nd quarter scramble.
In the passing game, Winston struggled with accuracy at times. He overthrew some open receivers, but also had several drops from reliable targets. Winston nearly had an interception in the 3rd quarter on a play-action rollout. As he took off to the right side of the field, Winston threw the ball all the way across the field to Seferian-Jenkins, who was running a deep corner route. The pass was well off its mark and slipped through the arms of CB Brandon Browner. Winston finally found the end zone in the 4th quarter. He hooked up with Mike Evans
on a deep post route to put the Bucs inside the New Orleans 10 yard line, and then found slot receiver Humphries on a crossing route for a score on the next play. Winston was running right on a designed rollout on his touchdown pass, and had lots of success with rollout passes on the day.
|RB Doug Martin, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 81 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (3 targets)|
Martin had a great day statistically, considering his limited carries (11 for 81 yards and a TD). Tampa Bays fell behind by 14 points early, shifting the offense to a more pass-heavy game script. Martin scored on a beautiful 14 yard run in the 2nd quarter, taking a pitch to the right behind the lead blocking of fullback Lane and cutting back inside after breaking a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage. Martin's longest run of the day(24 yards) came on a pitch play to the right that Martin took up the sideline in the 4th quarter. He also recorded a 22 yard gain on his first carry of the 2nd half, a pitch to the left that he cut back up the middle untouched for the first 20 yards or so. Pitch plays were very successful for Martin in week 14; game flow just unfortunately limited his opportunities. Martin drew a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the New Orleans D after getting hit late, long after failing to secure a 2nd quarter pass target. Martin had a bad drop in the 3rd quarter on a play action pass out of the backfield, and secured his last target of the day for a short gain at the end of the 3rd quarter.
|RB Charles Sims, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 10 - 0, Rec: 6 - 64 - 0 (8 targets)|
Sims had a limited day on the ground, tallying 10 yards on 5 carries, but he led the team in receiving yardage. Sims lined up in the backfield and out wide throughout the game, catching mostly dumpoff passes and out routes from the backfield. Sims lined up out wide in a 5WR set in the 3rd quarter and caught a WR screen that he nearly broke for a huge play. Safety Jairus Byrd dove and was able to snag his foot and bring him down. Sims had a lot of green grass in front of him if he had avoided the tackle. Sims had a bad drop on a RB screen out of the backfield in the 4th quarter, following it up with a short reception from the WR position on the next play. He recorded his longest reception of the day in the 4th quarter, catching a short out route from the backfield and spinning out of a tackle for a 14 yard gain. He followed that play up with another reception out of the backfield for 10 yards. Sims got wide open down the right sideline late in the 4th quarter. He was being pursued by a slower linebacker in coverage and had separation and open field in front of him, but Winston overthrew him at a time when the Bucs desperately needed a touchdown.
Handled kickoff and punt return duties, mostly touchbacks and fair catches. Returned one kickoff for 31 yards. Did not record significant snaps on offense.
|WR Mike Evans, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (4 targets)|
Evans had a slow day despite Vincent Jackson
's injury, recording his first catch in the later minutes of the 3rd quarter for a short gain, and adding 2 more catches for a total of 3 for 39 yards on 4 targets. Evans made a spectacular leaping catch on a contested ball in the 4th quarter as Winston was scrambling and looking to keep a busted play alive.
The consistent theme with Evans this season is that there are always some bad plays to go with his spectacular moments. Evans was flagged for offensive pass interference in the 4th quarter, nullifying Russel Shepard's only catch of the day. He also drew an unnecessary roughness penalty for 15 yards a few plays later during the same drive. However, at the end of the drive, Winston drilled Evans on a deep post route for a 22 yard gain to set Tampa Bay up inside the Saints' 10 yard line. The Bucs scored on the next play.
|WR Donteea Dye, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)|
Dye saw some work after the Vincent Jackson
injury, finishing the day with 1 catch for 16 yards on 3 targets. Dye barely missed a high pass from Winston on a 2nd quarter deep ball that would have gone for a good gain. The pass was high and would have a been a very tough catch, but Dye was able to get both hands on it. Dye secured his only catch on a deep post at the end of the first half, as the Bucs attempted to march downfield with limited time for a field goal. Dye had a terrible drop late in the 4th quarter on 3rd and 10 as the Bucs attempted to drive and tie the game at 24. Dye was open and Winston hit him in the numbers for the first down, but the rookie receiver failed to secure the pass.
Humphries caught 1 of 3 targets for 6 yards and Jameis Winston
's only touchdown of the day. His TD reception came on a shallow crossing pattern inside the New Orleans 10 yard line late in the 4th quarter as Winston ran right on a designed roll out. Humphries took off on the snap, heading across the formation from the left side to the right pylon and securing Winston's short pass for the touchdown.
Humphries a bad drop in the 2nd quarter negated by an unnecessary roughness penalty. He let the pass clang off of his hands on a short slant pattern.
V-Jax secured 1 target for 5 yards on the day before leaving in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury. He did not return to the game, though reports afterwards indicate he is not expected to miss a lot of time. Vjax had a huge gain on the first play of the game, catching a deep ball on play action, but the pass was negated by a holding penalty.
Shepard played special teams and saw sparse snaps on offense. He secured his only target for a gain of 5, but the play was nullified by a Mike Evans
offensive PI penalty.
ASJ snagged his first target on a quick slant route from the slot, split out to the right of the formation in the 1st quarter. He got open on a deep post route in the 1st quarter, but Winston sailed the ball high. ASJ drew a holding penalty on New Orleans CB Brandon Browner on a 2nd quarter corner route in the end zone. ASJ may have had a play on the ball if he had not been held. He had a beautiful diving catch on an out route in the 3rd quarter as QB Winston scrambled to the right side of the field and extended the play. ASJ had a clutch reception in the 4th quarter to convert 4th and 4, also drawing a facemask penalty to add another 15 yards to the gain and conversion
|TE Cameron Brate, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)|
Brate held down the second tight end spot, securing 2 of his 3 targets for 16 yards. He recorded his longest reception from the slot position, splitting out to the right on the first drive of the game and gaining 11 on a crossing route. Caught his second ball of the day at the end of the 1st half. The short reception on a quick out route helped set up a field goal before halftime.
was again inactive as Stocker slid into the 3rd tight end spot behind ASJ and Brate. Stocker was primarily used as a blocker and on special teams. He did not receive any targets in the passing game.