Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs-Saints report card: Grading Tampa Bay's 16-11 victory

TAMPA — Exhale, Bucs fans. This was a big one. Close, and big. Somehow, despite an offense that preferred field goals to touchdowns, the Bucs found a way to win. Actually, we know exactly how the Bucs won. With defense. Again. Tampa Bay's offense has sputtered in recent weeks, but a defense that got sturdy in the red zone then created turnovers led the Bucs to a 16-11 victory over the Saints. Here's Sunday's report card.

Make some noise

Hard to remember the last time the Raymond James Stadium crowd was as loud for a Bucs game as it was Sunday. While not a full house, it was pretty darn close. And it made noise like it was a full house. What a difference it can make. Not necessarily in the outcome of games — although a big, noisy crowd can't hurt — but just in making Bucs games fun again. Been a while since we said Bucs games were fun. GRADE: A

A little help?

With Washington nipping at Tampa Bay's heels in the playoff race, the Eagles could have lent a helping hand. But Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz got a brain cramp (and temporary blindness) when he fumbled while being blindsided just as Philly was about to punch it in for the winner. That pretty much ended Philadelphia's playoff hopes but allowed Washington to keep the pressure on the Bucs. Oh, and the Rams laid down for the Falcons. GRADE: D

Paint job

For a lot of recent seasons, you might not have really noticed what the end zones at Raymond James looked like, seeing as how the Bucs never scored a whole lot. (Ba da bum.) Anyway, with this offense, under the play-calling of Dirk Koetter and the direction of QB Jameis Winston, fans are getting a look at the cool red and black "Buccaneers.'' See what a little paint and a real quarterback can do? GRADE: B

That's a first

Remember last week when CB Vernon Hargreaves broke up a pass that led to Lavonte David's pick-six? Well, another linebacker (Kwon Alexander) repaid the favor. Alexander deflected a Drew Brees pass into the outstretched hands of a diving Hargreaves for the first interception of his NFL career. The first-round pick out of Florida is having a heck of a rookie season, and it's another check in the plus column for general manager Jason Licht. GRADE: A

Ain't that a kick

Roberto Aguayo is like a box of chocolates. You never … well, you know the rest. On Sunday, we got the good chocolate, er, Roberto. He nailed field goals of 41, 39 and 26 yards. Still, we're waiting for the game when the second-round pick lines up for a field goal with the game — and maybe the season — on his foot. It'll be as fun as a box of chocolates. GRADE: B-plus

Face it

Oh my gosh, Josh Huff. The Bucs bring Huff in and he gets a chance with so many injuries. So what's he do? He misplayed a kickoff return as the ball bounced off his face mask and ended up bouncing out of bounds at the 1-inch line. On the next play, RB Doug Martin was tackled for a safety. Then the Saints got the ball and drove for a field goal before the half. Huff's blunder cost Tampa Bay a possession and five points. GRADE: F

Yellow fever

This game had a ridiculous number of flags. It sure felt as if this officiating crew got way too involved. It's one thing to make sure the game is played fairly, but there comes a point when officials have to let a few things go for the sake of keeping it moving and the teams in rhythm. GRADE: D-minus

Bucs-Saints report card: Grading Tampa Bay's 16-11 victory 12/11/16 [Last modified: Sunday, December 11, 2016 10:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  3. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games

    Minors

    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.