The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are undefeated! It’s a corny joke, but it’s a fun one.
In all seriousness, the Bucs did some damage by putting 48 points on the New Orleans Saints to get their first win of the season.
It was also their first road win, win against a 2017 playoff team and win against a division rival. Not bad for one week’s work.
All of the scoring plays are important, but we’re here for the ones that helped establish the success which led to the scoring, and more importantly, the winning.
Here are your key plays from the Buccaneers’ Week 1 win against the New Orleans Saints!
The Play: Big Aggression in the Big Easy
Tampa Bay and offensive coordinator Todd Monken came into Week 1 with one word in mind: Attack.
And attack they did. Our first play is more stylistic than the rest, and so I’ve brought you three examples.
The first one, a big strike to DeSean Jackson deep as he ran past Saints safety Marcus Williams to tie the game early in the first quarter.
Then, the Bucs’ ground game got going with a couple of big runs by Peyton Barber. In this one, Williams is victim to Barber’s momentum and strength as he plows through the safety for a first down.
Finally, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick got into the action with his legs and shoulder as well as his arm. This score helped get his team to a ten point lead before the end of the first quarter. Again, it was Williams who felt the pain of the Tampa Bay aggression.
Williams and the Saints certainly took the game plan established by the Buccaneers early and often. These three plays are just a few examples of the attack the offense brought into hostile territory.
The Play: Curry Wants a Punt
With just around ten minutes left to play in the first half, there hadn’t been a single punt in the 17-17 game. Vinny Curry had enough of it, and on third-and-four the Super Bowl Champion stepped up to get his first sack of the season and as a Buccaneer.
The Tampa Bay offense not only made good on Curry’s efforts, but rewarded the team with a touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to Chris Godwin and bled five minutes of the clock in the process.
The Play: Fitzmagic Gets Rolling
Rolling may not be the right word. Moving, or more specifically, running would fit better.
Fitzpatrick had 36-yards on twelve carries, and two stuck out to me a little more than the others. Well, two more on top of the touchdown run we talked about earlier.
First, on a second and eight in the red zone with five and a half minutes remaining in the half, and his Bucs tied with the Saints at 17 a piece.
The previous play was a short pass to Jacquizz Rodgers, and there was a sense that how this drive ended was going to have a big part to play in deciding who won this game.
Following a timeout, the veteran quarterback came back to the line, made an adjustment and promptly took what can only be referred to as an un-designed quarterback draw.
Fox’s coverage team explained just why it looks like an uncalled for quarterback draw, and the lack of blocking behavior from the receivers is the biggest indicator.
This run set the Buccaneers up with a third and six, which isn’t much better than eight, but it’s enough to force the defense to play honest.
New Orleans’ honestly allowed Fitzpatrick and Godwin enough room to connect for the go ahead touchdown as the Bucs took a 24-17 lead.
The second run came at the end of the game. This time on a third down play, Fitzpatrick didn’t scramble for a better next play, he scrambled to take a knee.
The long run not only showed just how smart Fitzpatrick can be, it showed just how much the Saints learned to respect the team’s receiver threats. If they aren’t all running downfield with the receivers, then Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the room to run. He did. He took it. And three knees later, the Buccaneers walked out of New Orleans with the win because of it.
The Play: Scoop and Score
Up until this point it was mostly back and forth. The Saints fired the first shots and from there it was on. First, the sack leading to the first punt of the game allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take serve.
This play, gave them a lap up on the home team. That’s a lot of sports analogies, but I think you get the jist.
Vernon Hargreaves poked it loose and Justin Evans took it back for the score. The two score lead was big, and obviously turned out to be just what they needed.
The Final Play: New Year, New Wrinkles
3rd-and-3, clock is under 7:30 to go in the game and the Bucs are up two scores. Let’s be honest here folks. We all expected a run, draw or screen.
Instead, we got a 35-yard pass to DeSean Jackson over cornerback Ken Crawley.
The 2017 Buccaneers would’ve never done that, or they wouldn’t have done it well. Last year, this would have been Charles Sims territory nine times out of ten.
Of course, it’s likely they also wouldn’t have secured the win here. There was frustration late as many feel like the Bucs let off the gas too early. But this is evidence that with fewer than eight minutes remaining, Monken hadn’t gotten too one dimensional with his offense just yet.
Unfortunately, Jackson was injured on the play, but will hopefully be healthy enough to play against the Eagles this coming weekend. It stands as just one more example of how this year’s offense is just so different than last year’s.
This year, it wasn’t a screen to Sims or anyone else, at least this week it was nine-route to Jackson. And it was fantastic.