Any football fan will tell you, whether it’s in the schoolyard, at the workplace, or turning on your favorite sports talk show to see pundits gobsmacked by what they just witnessed less than 24 hours prior— Monday mornings are for bragging rights, armchair quarterbacks, and “Did you see when?!” This Monday morning, Bucs fans—
Will be excited to bring up— Tampa Bay’s offensive line.
The Buccaneers’ offensive line has spent the better part of the last two seasons being a punching bag for both opposing defenses and blame assigning observers. Last week, against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Buccaneers suffered their first loss of the season and a main culprit was the ineffective play of Tampa’s front five. The Eagle’s pass rush took over Monday night’s contest, pressuring Baker Mayfield, recording two sacks, and holding Tampa to just 41 yards rushing.
The New Orleans Saints have been notorious for dominating their games against the Buccaneers because of the ferocious nature of New Orleans’ defensive front. Today, Tampa’s line provided protection for Baker Mayfield and opened holes for the team’s runners— Tampa Bay rushed for 114 yards and had 353 yards total on the day.
Tampa Bay’s league-best drive.
17 plays 87 yards 8:51. That was the length of Tampa Bay’s first scoring drive, Sunday. At the drive’s conclusion, it was the longest drive that ended in a score this season. Piloted by Baker Mayfield and Dave Canales, Tampa Bay’s offense flourished with a 53% third down conversion rate.
Tampa Bay’s response to adversity.
Late in the second quarter the Buccaneers were driving in an attempt to widen the margin of their lead and deep in Saints’ territory Baker Mayfield threw an interception. Luckily for the Buccaneers the interception was so deep in Saints’ territory that the turnover left them backed up on their own one yard line. Being backed up, New Orleans was unlikely to mount a drive before half of their own. Tampa Bay could have hung their heads and settled for a 7-3 at the intermission. Instead following the interception, on the very next snap, the Saints ran a predictably “safe” play. Antoine Winfield Jr. turned that “safe” play into a dangerous swing of momentum when he punched the ball out of Adam Prentice’s hands giving possession back to the Bucs with another chance at the end zone. Baker Mayfield did not waste the opportunity, cashing in with a touchdown pass to budding rookie star Trey Palmer.
Are going to be worried about— Mike Evans’ hamstring.
Mike Evans is no stranger to hamstring injuries. The Buccaneers’ star receiver’s history is a durable one still, for explosive skill position players, tweaked hamstrings are a murky injury to navigate due to their nagging nature. Mike Evans’ long-term health is certainly more important than his performance in any one game. He did not finish the game against the Saints, hopefully Evans’ injury is not one that will linger through the year. The figurative salt in the wound is that Evans was off to an impressive start. Matched up with his most bitter foe, Evans left the first half early, having already accumulated 40 yards receiving and baited Marshon Lattimore into a sizable pass interference penalty.
Won’t be able to let it go— Antoine Winfield Jr.
Bucs’ fans are well aware of the consistent level of high-quality play Antoine Winfield Jr. brings to the team. Every once in a while, even knowing that, sometimes it is still so eye-catching that it needs mentioning. Games like today just flashes all over the field. He is a safety who plays in the offense’s backfield as a pass rusher, as a run stuffer, he’s reliable deep in coverage playing a more traditional safety-role. A very simple, but powerful complement— When you watch a game like today’s, you simply can’t miss Antoine Winfield Jr. His on-field impact for Tampa’s defense feels almost immeasurable.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in first place in the NFC South. After four games, Tampa Bay is 3-1, with a colossal divisional win under their belt. This marks Tampa’s third straight win, against the Saints, for the first time in franchise history.
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