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Bucs' Swing Points - Week 6 New Orleans Saints

At this point of the season, the Buccaneers were 3-1 and were coming off a close, last-second win over the Cincinnati Bengals. They had already matched their win total from the previous season and things were looking up for the Buccaneers. However, now they'd have to face a New Orleans Saints team that had won the Super Bowl the year before and were still looking very strong. Impressively, the Saints seemed to have a better defense than the previous year and they looked like a very tough opponent. However, one fact would help the Bucs: both Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were out with injuries, and undrafted rookie Chris Ivory would be the lead back for the Saints. In addition to that, Tracy Porter was also inactive, and with Darren Sharper still injured their secondary looked vulnerable.

The Bucs had some injury issues themselves, though. Jeff Faine was replaced by Jeremy Zuttah at center, while Kyle Moore couldn't play at all. And for some reason, Legarrette Blount was not active for this game. Perhaps they felt that Blount wouldn't be able to play much because he wasn't comfortable in the offense, but this left the Bucs with Cadillac Williams as their lead back, and that wasn't very productive. 

The game started out pretty poorly for the Bucs, as they gave up a touchdown on the first drive when Drew Brees hit Lance Moore for a 41-yard reception. Moore had simply sped by Aqib Talib who was looking in the backfield, although it's possible someone was supposed to be covering that half of the field. More worrisome, perhaps, was the Bucs inability to stop the Saints running game. On that drive, which had started at the Saints 6-yard line, the Saints ran three running plays: one for 18 yards, one for 4 yards and one for 7 yards. That was a theme that would continue throughout the game, as Chris Ivory racked up a whopping 158 yards on 15 carries, and the Saints ran the ball 32 times in total for 212 yards. 

However, a running game does not mean a team will score a lot of points, so there was plenty of reason for the Bucs to hope they could stay in this game. Even when Brees hit Robert Meachem for a 42-yard touchdown that hope wasn't lost, as Freeman had shown he could move the ball downfield quickly in previous games. Again Aqib Talib was beat on a deep passing play, although Cody Grimm seemed to be late coming over as well. But the Bucs were still in this game. Even when a field goal made it a three-score game, the Bucs didn't seem entirely out of it. The Bucs had been moving the ball downfield, after all, they just hadn't been socring, in part because Connor Barth had missed a field goal. 

The Bucs weren't really out of it until some point in the third quarter. I can't really point to a true breaking point - the Cadillac Williams fumble to stop a Bucs drive at midfield may have been the one that did it, but the fact that the Saints were able to move the ball into the endzone by simply running the ball over and over again really broke the back of this Bucs' team. The Bucs couldn't stop such luminaries as Chris Ivory and Ladell Betts, and lost this game a whopping 31-6. This was the second blowout loss the Bucs had suffered in 3 weeks, and that now 3-2 record didn't look so shiny after all.