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Other Week 11 Game Recaps

Week 11 Game Recap: New Orleans Saints 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

What you need to know

New Orleans Saints

After an embarrassing let down last week against Atlanta, the Saints got back on track this week with a win against Tampa Bay. It was a dominating performance on both sides of the ball as Drew Brees threw 3 touchdowns and the defense added on of their own on an interception returned for a touchdown. The defense also had 12 passes defended, 12 quarterback hits, 3 sacks, and 4 interceptions this week. The rushing attack got back on track in a small way with a combined 100-yard performance against one of the league’s toughest rush defenses and Michael Thomas became the first player in NFL history to have 90 receptions in their first 10 games of the season. Everything was firing on all cylinders this week and the Saints were back to looking like the top team in the NFC. New Orleans will play host to the Carolina Panthers next Sunday afternoon and currently hold a 3-game lead in the division over their rival.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It was a weird box score for the Tampa Bay offense as Cameron Brate and Scotty Miller led the team in receiving yards. Tampa Bay fell behind early after a poor effort from Howard resulted in an interception. The coaching staff benched Howard and appeared to feature long-forgotten Cameron Brate with 14 targets just to spite Howard. Tampa Bay got zero production from their ground game, and receivers Evans and Godwin had slow days. QB Winston followed the first interception that wasn't his fault up with several that were, including a pick-six near the end of the 4th quarter and another pick on the following drive to finally end the game.

New Orleans Saints

QB Drew Brees, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 35 - 228 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 0 - 0
There were a lot of things that went right for Brees and the Saints this week but the biggest change from their let down loss a week ago was he did not get sacked a single time this week. Untimely sacks derailed drives last week and that was the biggest area they cleaned up against the Buccaneers. Brees connected with Michael Thomas for the first touchdown of the game after an interception of Jameis Winston. Thomas ran a wheel route underneath Ted Ginn who was running a slant. The defense jumped Ginn’s route and Thomas was wide open for the easy 16-yard score. The second touchdown went to Jared Cook for 3 yards in the back of the end zone. Brees dropped back and threw the ball high off his back foot to Cook in the back corner of the end zone. Cook had to go up and over his defender to make the catch and was able to hold on to the ball as he went hard to the ground. It was a pass that was either going to be caught by Cook or go out the back of the end zone. His third and final touchdown went to Ted Ginn after Tampa Bay had pulled within 10 points. The touchdown pass was setup by a 41-yard catch and run by Thomas down the sideline. The 6-yard touchdown pass to Ginn came across the middle after he settled into a small void and Brees zipped the pass into a small window. After the touchdown, 2 Tampa defenders looked at each other and seemed to ask who was supposed to be covering Ginn. It was an all-around good game for Brees with 3 touchdown passes, no turnovers, and no sacks.

QB Taysom Hill, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets)
It was not a great game for Hill. He was sacked on his only passing attempt for a loss of 9 yards and then had a reception and rushing attempt that both went for 2 yards. The Saints did not need any trick or gimmick plays from Hill to beat Tampa Bay this week and Thomas, Cook, and Kamara took care of everything through the air. Better games are ahead for Hill, but he has seen a decrease in his usage since Cook started playing better.

RB Alvin Kamara, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 75 - 0, Rec: 10 - 47 - 0 (10 targets)
This was always going to be a tough matchup for the running game with Tampa playing so well against the run. Their pass defense was also so horrible that there was really no point in trying to force anything on the ground. Kamara seemed to get back on track this week as he averaged 5.8 yards per carry on 13 carries. This was 3 more than Latavius Murray who has carved a much bigger role in the rushing attack than the beginning of the season. Kamara’s longest run went for 14 yards, but he has still not found the end zone since week 3 against Seattle. Kamara’s value this week came in the passing game where he was the second leading receiver on the team and caught all 10 of his targets. His longest catch was a dump off that went for 17 yards down the sideline. The Saints have always been thin at receiver behind Thomas and Ginn and Kamara often lines up out wide and runs routes as a receiver to try and fill that void. It has been a long time since he has found the end zone and that may prove tough again next week against a stout Carolina defense.

RB Latavius Murray, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 27 - 0, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (3 targets)
This was a game to forget for Murray again this week. HE was given a fair amount of carries this week with 10 but was unable to do anything with them. He averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and almost half of his yards came on a single 12-yard rush off tackle. Murray did not make up for this shortcoming in the pass game like Kamara did. HE caught 2 of his 3 targets for 5 total yards and did not make much of an impact. Murray has still earned the right to a fair number of touches in the offense, but he is going to need to perform better if he wants to keep it that way. Rushing attempts were almost 50/50 this week but could start to trend in the other direction if he continues to struggle.

WR Michael Thomas, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 114 - 1 (11 targets)
Another week and another dominating performance by Thomas. The top receiver for the Saints caught 8 of his 11 targets for more than 100 yards and a touchdown this week. He became the first player in NFL history to have 90+ receptions in their team’s first 10 games of the season. Thomas has a chance to catch Marvin Harrison’s record of 143 in a season but would still need several big games to do so. Thomas kicked off the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter after Jameis Winston threw an interception on the Tampa side of the field. Thomas ran a wheel route underneath Ginn’s inside slant and the defense had no idea what to do. The outside corner started working in with Ginn before realizing Thomas was wide open down the side line for the walk-in score. It was an easy pitch and catch for a touchdown on a great play design. Thomas added a 41-yard catch and run on what looked like almost the exact same play but with different players. This time it was Thomas who came on the in cut with Taysom Hill working the wheel to the outside. The defense stayed to the outside and Thomas caught the ball across the middle for an easy first down and then turned on the jets down the side line for a 41-yard gain. It has been an outstanding season for Thomas so far and he is on pace for 150 receptions and over 1800 yards receiving. Look for another big game next week against the Panthers.

WR Ted Ginn, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 14 - 1 (4 targets)
It was a relatively quiet game for Ginn this week outside of his touchdown catch. The Saints held a lead and got a dominating performance from the defense, so they did not need to take any shots down the field with Ginn. He caught 2 of his 4 targets for just 14 yards this week and a 6-yard touchdown. The touchdown gave the Saints a 17-point lead and came on the heels of a 41-yard catch and run by Thomas. Ginn ran a curl route and settled down in a void between defenders right at the goal line. Brees put the ball on his chest and Ginn made the catch going to the ground to avoid any potential hit that he may not have seen coming. Ginn will always be there to run the deep route when the Saints need it, but they simply did not need it from him this week.

TE Jared Cook, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 33 - 1 (2 targets)
Everything continues to turn around for Cook as he is making more plays in the offense and seems to have put the early season struggles behind him. He was the 3rd leading receiver this week behind Thomas and Kamara and he caught both of his targets. He had a big 30-yard catch where he went right up the seam and rumbled down the field for the big gain and then he had a very athletic 3-yard touchdown catch. It was Brees’ second touchdown pass of the game and looked like it was going to be a pass out the back of the end zone before Cook made a leaping and acrobatic catch. He went up and over his defender and absorbed a hit from a crashing safety and still completed the catch to the ground for the touchdown. This is the type of play that the Saints signed him for, and he continues to trend towards the TE1 they thought they were signing as the season goes on.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Jameis Winston, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 51 - 313 - 2 TD / 4 INT, Rush: 2 - 23 - 0
Winston's first interception was not his fault as tight end Howard bobbled an easy, short crossing route and attempted to secure it behind his back, giving a defender time to creep up and intercept the ball. The coaching staff appeared to take offense to Howard's effort, as he was benched for the rest of the game and Cameron Brate was peppered with 14 targets.

Winston set the Bucs first touchdown up with a deep ball to Scotty Miller in the 2nd quarter that went all the way to the Saints 1 yard line. Winston bobbled a snap and lost 5 yards, putting the Bucs in 3rd and goal from the 7 instead of 2nd and goal from the 2, but fortunately he found Barber for a touchdown pass on a stick route the next play. Winston was looking for Godwin deep on his second interception, but underthrew the pass where it was tipped from one defender to another. Already down 27-17, Winston tossed a pick-six to Marcus Williams late in the 4th quarter to make it 34-17 while looking for Evans, then finished the game out with another interception in the end zone on the next drive. Winston was looking for Evans on a jump ball that was brought down instead by a defender. Winston sadly led the team with 23 yards rushing, all of it coming on a 4th quarter scramble.

RB Ronald Jones, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (4 targets)
Jones led the team with 4 carries on a day with no ground production whatsoever. He caught a screen for a short gain in the 4th quarter. Ogunbowale got the only goal line carry.

RB Dare Ogunbowale, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0, Rec: 3 - 10 - 0 (4 targets)
Ogunbowale got his usual work in passing situations as the Bucs attempted the two minute drill at the end of the 1st half. Winston peppered him with three receptions-including a desperate 3rd down toss with his left hand- to extend the drive. Ogunbowale got stuffed on a goal-line carry in the 4th quarter.

RB Peyton Barber, 12 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 1 (2 targets)
Barber, like Jones, did quite literally nothing on the ground(0 carries) with Tampa Bay playing from behind. He did have a nice touchdown catch on a 7 yard stick route from Winston late in the 2nd quarter.

RB T.J. Logan, 1 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)
Logan secured his only target for an 11 yard gain on an out route from the backfield. He fielded kickoffs and punts.

WR Mike Evans, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 69 - 0 (8 targets)
Evans had a quiet first half, finally drawing a pass interference penalty late in the 2nd and hauling in a short curl route just before halftime. Evans had a brutal drop on an easy crossing route that would have converted 3rd down in the 2nd half. Winston overthrew Evans badly on his 3rd INT. Evans left briefly with an injury late in the 4th quarter, but he returned on the next drive to record his longest reception of the day, a 27 yard catch and run that he took all the way to the Saints one yard line. Two plays later, Winston underthrew a pass to Evans in the end zone and was intercepted to cap a woeful day for the offense.

WR Scott Miller, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 71 - 0 (6 targets)
Miller showed his wheels off on what was nearly his first NFL touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Winston hit him down the right sideline and Miller's defender managed to trip him up just shy of the goal line after a beautiful 48 yard catch in stride. Miller narrowly missed another deep ball with a diving effort in the 3rd quarter, then followed that play up with a nice toe-tapping reception on the left sideline. Miller finished with a career high in targets(6), catches(4), and yards(71).

WR Chris Godwin, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 47 - 1 (6 targets)
Godwin, like Evans, couldn't get much going on a day when the coaching staff seemed determined to feature Cameron Brate just to spite OJ Howard. Winston was looking for Godwin deep on his second interception, but underthrew the pass where it was tipped from one defender to another. Godwin finally got on the board with a short crossing route in the 3rd. Godwin collected most of his yards on a nifty catch and run in the 3rd quarter. Winston hit him on a crossing route from the left slot, and Godwin wove his way through 30 yards through the secondary to walk into the end zone untouched.

TE Cameron Brate, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 73 - 0 (14 targets)
Brate, forgotten for weeks in this offense barren of tight end production, appeared to be the beneficiary of the coaching staff's frustration with Howard. Howard bobbled an easy catch on a short route in the 1st, resulting in an interception. Howard was benched after the interception. Brate was targeted across the middle on Tampa's next offensive play, and went on to draw a team-high 14 targets. Brate and Winston couldn't get any of their big connections down the seam going, instead working the short middle and outside of the field with out and crossing routes. Brate collected 10 of his 14 targets, but did not draw any looks in the end zone.

TE O.J. Howard, 17 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Howard bobbled an easy catch on a short crossing route then clumsily attempted to corral it behind his back, resulting in an interception late in the 1st quarter. He was benched after the play, and Cameron Brate was peppered with 14 targets as the coaches appeared to take offense to Howard's effort.