1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Buccaneers-Saints, Week 5: What we learned

Thomas Bassinger: The New Orleans defense challenged Jameis Winston like no other defense this season. Plus, stopping Michael Thomas apparently wasn’t in the game plan.
No place like home: In his past two games against the Bucs in New Orleans, Saints receiver Michael Thomas has caught 27 of 30 targets for 362 yards and three touchdowns. [BILL FEIG  |  Associated Press]
No place like home: In his past two games against the Bucs in New Orleans, Saints receiver Michael Thomas has caught 27 of 30 targets for 362 yards and three touchdowns. [BILL FEIG | Associated Press]
Published Oct. 6, 2019
Updated Oct. 7, 2019

Observations from the Buccaneers’ 31-24 loss to the Saints on Sunday in New Orleans:

1. A week ago, there was much to celebrate in Tampa Bay sports. The Rays had clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013. The Bucs had upset the defending NFC champions. Now? The Rays are in danger of getting swept out of the postseason, and the Bucs have lost ground in their division, falling to third place.

2. The Saints defensive line absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage. New Orleans sacked Jameis Winston six times, the most he had been sacked since Christmas Eve 2017. Marcus Davenport, who has emerged as one of the most disruptive edge rushers in the NFL, led the way with two.

3. The Bucs held one playmaker in check (Alvin Kamara) but were torched by another (Michael Thomas). Thomas caught 11 of 13 targets for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

4. On Thomas’ second touchdown, which put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter, he forced two missed tackles. Tackling had been an area in which the Tampa Bay defense had made strides this season. “We’ve been better,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said last week. “We can still work on tackling every week, which we do every time in practice. We can wrap up a few more we’re giving away. They’re not big misses, but they’re misses to where (opponents) get 3 or 4 extra yards.”

5. Meanwhile, the Saints shut out Mike Evans. Evans had caught a pass in 65 straight games, a streak that began more than four years ago.

6. Chris Godwin maintained his 100-catch pace. He caught seven passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns, though the second touchdown didn’t make a material difference in the outcome of the game. It was his seventh 100-yard game and third multi-touchdown game.

7. Carlton Davis’ ejection was a game-changer. Davis, who has been the Bucs’ best cornerback, was disqualified after his helmet-to-helmet hit on Saints tight end Jared Cook late in the second quarter. New Orleans went on to score a go-ahead touchdown and never relinquished the lead.

8. The game’s turning point: when the Saints scored a touchdown on their final possession of the first half and their first possession of the second half.

9. Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw four touchdown passes, the most he has thrown in a game in four seasons. The last quarterback to throw at least four touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions against Tampa Bay: Mitchell Trubisky, in a 48-10 Chicago win early last season.

10. Coach Bruce Arians talked last week about wanting his players, specifically Winston, to play fearless. Fearless, the Bucs were not Sunday. They climbed back into the game when they scored a touchdown late in the third quarter that cut the Saints’ lead to 24-17. On their next possession, they gave the game right back. They began with drive with a false start and a 2-yard run on first and 15. An 11-yard pass to Bobo Wilson got them to third and 2, but they failed to convert. On fourth and 2 from the Tampa Bay 43-yard line, the Bucs chose to punt rather than go for it. The Saints answered by stringing together a 13-play, 91-yard touchdown drive.

11. New Orleans’ 91-yard drive was the longest touchdown drive Tampa Bay had surrendered since Week 13 last season.

12. Through three quarters, Winston threw 17 passes. Bucs running backs had 18 carries (19 if you count a run by receiver Scotty Miller). So much for “balance” being advantageous to the offense.

13. Tampa Bay started slow, recording only five first downs in the first half. On its first possession of the second half, it had seven (including a touchdown).

14. The Bucs offense’s 48-point outburst against the Rams last week might have been a mirage. Tampa Bay scored 28 of those points off its four takeaways. On Sunday, it scored its first touchdown after a Sean Murphy-Bunting interception gave the offense a short field.

15. There was no way that Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who was on pace to generate more than 100 pressures this season, was going to be able to maintain his historic level of production. He didn’t have a single quarterback hit or tackle for loss. Was he limited by the groin injury that kept him out of practice last week?

16. It’s hard to win at New Orleans in October. The Saints have won 14 straight games at home and haven’t lost in nine seasons.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at Follow @tometrics.


  1. In this file photo, Bucs coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Jameis Winston walk off the field after a season-opening home loss to San Francisco. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  2. Florida State running back Cam Akers (3) runs for a touchdown during the first quarter of last season's home opener against Boise State. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  3. He may look happy here, but Bradley Pinion seems pretty overjoyed (at least on social media) at the prospect of the team dumping this uni design. [Times]
  4. Kacey Reynolds announces that LSU linebacker Devin White has been selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round at the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Bucs announced Sunday that Reynolds had died at age 20 after a three-year battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. [MARK HUMPHREY  |  AP]
  5. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett's bet on himself is about to pay off, in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. [PAUL SANCYA  |  AP]
  6. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99),  during the first half of a game against the Chiefs on Jan. 12, 2020, took to Twitter to give his view of the owners' labor proposal: "A hard no." (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann) [REED HOFFMANN  |  AP]
  7. Monte Kiffin, shown here talking to safety John Lynch during a preseason game against the Jaguars on Aug. 16, 2002, this season will be the 14th inductee into the Bucs Ring of Honor. [WHITE, KEVIN  |  St. Petersburg Times]
  8. Washington quarterback Jacob Eason in action against Southern Cal in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) [ELAINE THOMPSON  |  AP]
  9. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, left, and his son Stephen Jones, the team's executive vice president, leave after NFL owners meet to discuss a proposed labor agreement, Thursday Feb. 20, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) [BEBETO MATTHEWS  |  AP]
  10. Former Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a free agent after one season in Carolina. [TIM IRELAND  |  AP]
  11. An ESPN analyst's recent criticism of Jameis Winston was based on what he saw as excessive delay-of-game penalties. [MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  12. FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2016, file photo Pro Football Hall of Fame 2016 inductee Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr., talks with reporters in Canton, Ohio. President Donald Trump pardoned DeBartolo, former San Francisco 49ers owner convicted in gambling fraud scandal. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File) [GENE J. PUSKAR  |  AP]