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Week 5 Game Recap: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24, New Orleans Saints 31


What you need to know

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs went down swinging, scoring with just a few seconds left to narrow the New Orleans lead to one touchdown, but they couldn't recover the ensuing onside kick possession. Winston's day was worse than the stat sheet indicated, as he was lucky to avoid several turnovers. Saints backup QB Teddy Bridgewater shined as New Orleans slowed down the pass rush that has given the Bucs so much success in recent weeks. The Saints defense harried Winston with 6 sacks, and were able to completely neutralize Mike Evans, who caught zero passes. Chris Godwin shined as the Saint focused the extra attention on Evans. Ronald Jones looked a little better with his touches than starter Peyton Barber, but Barber was the back who found the end zone.

New Orleans Saints

The panic everyone in New Orleans was going through has quickly subsided now that Teddy Bridgewater is starting to gain form. The final score made this game look much closer than it was, but the Saints dominated on both sides of the ball in rout to their 31-24 win over the Buccaneers. Bridgewater threw a career high 4 touchdown passes, and the defense managed to hold Mike Evans without a catch this week. It was an impressive game against a team that put up 55 points against the Rams last week. Alvin Kamara did not have a great day, but the running game did just enough to keep the pass defense honest. The will host Jacksonville next Sunday and will look to stay atop the NFC South division.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Jameis Winston, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 27 - 204 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0
Winston looked rough from the start, underthrowing OJ Howard on a deep corner route for what was nearly an interception on the first drive. On the next snap he followed up with an actual interception on what looked to be a route miscommunication with newly promoted receiver Scotty Miller. The Bucs were bailed out by a flag that turned out to be a delay of game penalty, negating the interception. Winston threw another pick while looking for Miller deep in the 3rd quarter, but got bailed out by a holding penalty. He tossed another short pass right into the arms of a Saints defender(who dropped it) in the 3rd quarter while attempting to score from the 2 yard line. Tampa Bay's offensive line struggled to protect Winston, who took a whopping six sacks and several more hits.

The Saints were able to take Evans out of the offense game plan, but Winston was able to get a good connection going with Godwin for seven receptions and two touchdowns. The two hooked up on a crossing route from the Saints' 15 yard line at the end of the first quarter, with Godwin crossing behind the linebackers in coverage from the right slot. Winston found him again at the end of the game, with the Bucs trailing by two touchdowns and less than 30 seconds left in the game. Godwin caught a skinny post and broke a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone, but the Bucs couldn't recover the ensuing onside kick attempt.

RB Ronald Jones II, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 35 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)
Barber got the start, but Jones mixed in evenly and finished the day with more touches and yards, though Barber scored the only rushing touchdown of the day. Jones' longest run of the day was a 14 yard carry off right tackle in the 2nd quarter. Jones caught a well-timed halfback screen for a gain of 10 and a swing route for another first down pickup in the 2nd quarter.

RB Peyton Barber, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 32 - 1, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (1 targets)
Barber got the nod in the backfield at the beginning of the 1st and 3rd quarters and found the end zone once, but Ronald Jones finished the day with a couple more touches and a slightly better stat line. Barber was able to punch a touchdown in from the 2 yard line in the 3rd quarter. He lost a yard on a checkdown pass from Winston, his only target of the day.

RB Dare Ogunbowale, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -4 - 0, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (3 targets)
Ogunbowale got his usual work in passing situations, securing a couple of checkdown passes for solid gains on the last drive of the day as the Saints fielded prevent defense with a 14 point lead and less than two minutes remaining. Ogunbowale did draw his first red zone target, as Winston overthrew him on an out route from the 2 yard line in the 3rd quarter.

WR Chris Godwin, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 125 - 2 (9 targets)
With the Saints game-planning to stop Evans with extra coverage, Godwin was able to work open on short and intermediate routes from the slot, drawing a team high 9 targets that he converted into two touchdowns and 125 yards. He was the only receiver Winston could get anything going with. Godwin capped a late 1st quarter drive with a touchdown, working his way across the field from the right slot where Winston found him behind the linebackers in coverage. Godwin caught a slant in the New Orleans red zone and nearly found the end zone again as he was tackled at the 2 yard line. Peyton Barber eventually finished that drive off with a 2 yard touchdown run. Godwin's longest catch of the day was a 26 yard gain on a deep post route in the 4th quarter. Godwin broke several tackles and scored with a few seconds left in the game on a skinny post from Winston. The final touchdown narrowed the Saints' lead to seven points, but the Bucs couldn't recover the onside kick with less than a minute left in the game.

WR Scott Miller, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 18 - 0 (2 targets)
Miller had a rough debut as he joined Evans and Godwin in 3WR sets. He appeared to have a route miscommunication with Winston on the first drive that resulted in an ugly interception that was luckily negated by a delay of game penalty. Winston tossed one well over his head on a short out route on the next drive. Miller did have a nice carry on an end-around sweep that picked up 18 yards in the 2nd quarter.

WR Mike Evans, 57 offensive snaps (3 targets)
Evans showed just how low his floor can be in this offense as notched zero catches on four targets despite playing the entire game. Evans was followed around by CB Marshon Lattimore, and the Saints kept rolling extra coverage his way, opting to let Chris Godwin pick them apart underneath from the slot. Tampa Bay tried moving Evans around some as the game progressed, but they just couldn't get anything going to the big receiver.

WR Bobo Wilson
Wilson lined up in a 3WR bunch formation and caught an out route for an 11 yard gain late in the 3rd quarter.

TE O.J. Howard, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets)
Howard continues to be invisible in this offense. Winston looked his way on a deep corner route during the Bucs' first drive, but he underthrew the pass and missed out on a big gain. Despite playing all four quarters, Howard notched his only reception on a shallow crossing route with 40 seconds left in the game.

TE Cameron Brate, 14 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)
Brate secured his only target for an 11 yard gain up the seam on the first offensive play of the game.


New Orleans Saints

QB Teddy Bridgewater, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 34 - 314 - 4 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 7 - 0
Bridgewater is doing everything he can to make it tough for the Saints when Brees comes back. He has won every game that he has started so far and is starting to build chemistry with his receivers. This week he set a new career high for touchdown passes and led the Saints to a win against a divisional opponent that was coming off a big win the week before. His first touchdown was a 14-yard out route that Thomas turned up field and dove right at the pylon for the score. The second touchdown was the first of the year for Jared Cook and was a simple slant pattern that let the big bodied tight end power his way into the end zone. His third touchdown was a great 33-yard pass to a wide-open Ted Ginn in the middle of the field where Tampa had rolled the coverage to the outside and led to the easy score. The final touchdown went to Michael Thomas again and went for 12 yards up the seam and had a broken tackle and spin move to get into the end zone. The only blemish on the day for Bridgewater was an interception that was not his fault. Bridgewater threw a pass to Alvin Kamara on a short wheel route and Kamara bobbled the ball right into the arms of his defender. The pass led him perfectly up the field to run for additional yards, but Kamara was unable to pull it in and it cost Bridgewater an interception. This team will go back to Brees when he returns from injury, but Bridgewater is giving them an interesting trade chip or an extended interview for the quarterback of their future.

QB Taysom Hill, 15 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 18 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 14 - 0
It finally happened. The Saints dialed up a Taysom Hill pass play and he even completed the pass. On the Saints first touchdown drive of the game, they marched down the field with consecutive 18-yard pass plays to Michael Thomas. Bridgewater hit him 13 yards down the sideline and watched him run another 5 yards and then Hill hit him across the middle for 15 yards and saw him run another 3 before being tackled. Hill has been a run first option the entire season and has yet to take a real shot down the field. Hill added 2 carries for 14 yards, one of which was a long 11-yard run. The Saints dug into their bag of tricks this week and showed a little of what Hill can do.

RB Alvin Kamara, 48 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 13 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 16 - 62 - 0, Rec: 6 - 42 - 0 (7 targets)
It was not the normal day we are accustomed to seeing from Kamara, but he did still have 100 total yards of offense this week. Tampa Bay did a great job tackling and bottled up Kamara around the line of scrimmage on almost every run. He broke free once for 16 yards but ended the day with an average of just 3.9 yards per carry. He chipped in 6 receptions on 7 targets and wishes he could have back the one he did not catch. Kamara had what should have been an easy catch up the seam, but he bobbled the ball as he tried to pull it in, and it was taken out of the air by the defender. The ball was thrown low and out in front of him so he could turn up the field and run and he just did not secure it properly. The Saints dug into their bag of tricks with Kamara as well and dialed up a half back pass play. Kamara completed a 13-yard pass to Josh Hill on a 3rd and 1 play. Kamara led Hill a little too much and Hill had to slide and make the catch, otherwise he could have run for much longer. It was an easy first down that could have been an even bigger play with a better throw. Kamara saw carries go to Latavius Murray this week, but he is still the clear top option in that backfield.

RB Latavius Murray, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 28 - 0, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (2 targets)
It has been a very rocky start to the season for Murray. The constant changes with the offense have made it difficult and Murray has taken the biggest hit. He was given 7 carries this week and turned in a 4 yards per carry average. He also took away 2 targets and receptions in the passing game from Kamara but was not able to do very much with them. The role for Murray in this offense is even less than it was when he was in Minnesota with everything going through Kamara. The Saints still trust him to eat up clock time at the end of the game when needed, but his role continues to shrink. Murray benefits from game script and the Saints just have not played many games that play to his strengths.

WR Michael Thomas, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 11 - 182 - 2 (13 targets)
When looking at the stat line for Thomas this week, most people would think Drew Brees came back and the duo was back to their old tricks. It turns out the offensive line remembered how to protect Bridgewater and he had time to get the ball down the field to Thomas. He caught 11 of his 13 targets, chipped in 2 touchdowns, and was able to run routes deeper down the field for big chunks of yards this week. Thomas had the longest play of the game for either team this week with his 42-yard catch and run down the sideline. The play was challenged for potential offensive pass interference and the refs deemed he did not push off enough to warrant a flag. The first touchdown for Thomas was of the 14-yard variety. Thomas caught the ball on an out route that was well short of the first down marker, let alone the goal line, but he turned up field and used his big body to reach across the goal line for the score. The play was reviewed, and the replay showed he got the ball just inside of the pylon and the touchdown call stood. The second touchdown went for 12 yards and again had Thomas show off his powerful running skills. HE caught the ball well short of the end zone and broke a tackle before spinning through another and into the end zone. It was a poor tackling effort by the Tampa secondary that led to this score. This is the type of day we came to expect from Thomas when Brees was under center, but now it looks like Bridgewater is starting to build the same level of chemistry. Thomas could be in line for another big game next week if Jalen Ramsey continues to sit out for Jacksonville.

WR Ted Ginn, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 2 - 35 - 1 (2 targets)
It took 5 games, but Ginn finally broke free for a long touchdown this week. He had just 2 targets and made the most of them with a long 33-yard touchdown catch. The big play came just 2 plays after Michael Thomas had a big 42-yard play down the sideline and Bridgewater attacked the middle of the field to Ginn. Bridgewater had a clean pocket and was able to step up and deliver a strike to Ginn who had come wide open after the defense rolled to Thomas on the outside. The busted coverage led to there not being a defender within 5 yards of Ginn and it was an easy pitch and catch for the touchdown. Ginn has not made many big plays since the first game of the year, but he was finally able to break through with a touchdown this week.

TE Jared Cook, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 41 - 1 (6 targets)
Just like with Ginn, it has been a long time coming for Cook in this Saints offense. In what is easily his best game of the season, Cook caught 4 of 6 passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. He set season high marks in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns this week. The touchdown was the exact type of play the Saints envisioned when they signed him in the off season. It was a 9-yard slant where he caught the ball at the 3-yard line and used his big body to power the rest of the way in for the score. Despite the touchdown, Cook also reminded everyone of his struggles when he dropped a ball that he should have caught in the end zone for a touchdown. Thankfully, Michael Thomas was able to salvage that drive with a touchdown, but it could have been a much bigger day for Cook. Hopefully this is the game that turns the season around for Cook.