The New Orleans Saints utterly dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Nov. 5 as they rolled to their sixth consecutive victory with a 30-10 triumph over their NFC South rivals at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
All three phases - offense, defense and special teams - clicked for the Saints (6-2) as they maintained their hold of first-place in the division. But it was special teams that sparked the demolition of the Bucs (2-6). Up 3-0, the Saints stopped the Bucs on three plays on their first possession and forced a punt. Justin Hardee, a rookie special teams ace, came free up the middle and easily blocked Bryan Anger's punt and then caught the ball on the carom and went untouched into the end zone.
The Saints scored their second touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Drew Brees to Alvin Kamara with 55 seconds left in the half. Several Bucs defenders had a chance to tackle the rookie from Tennessee but couldn't bring him down. The score capped a 93-yard drive for the Saints. New Orleans added two more touchdowns in the second half - a 33-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Kamara and a 36-yard touchdown reception by Ted Ginn Ginn's score was set up by a fumble recovery by Chris Banjo on a fumble that was caused by Vonn Bell.
The third quarter was marred by a cheap shot from Bucs receiver Mike Evans and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore that started a scuffle along the Tampa sideline. Evans was penalized for unsportsmanlike contact. The incident was sparked when Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who left the game after the first half, hit Lattimore in the back of the helmet.
The Saints defense had thoroughly dominated the Bucs up to that point as they held them to just 144 yards of offense in three quarters. Tampa's passing attack, ranked second in the league coming into the game, was especiallty woeful, whether it was Winson or back up Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Tampa's star receivers, Evans and DeSean Jackson, were non-factors.
The Bucs scored their loine touchdown on an 8-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to Luke Stocker. That score was set up when Drew Brees fumbled a Tampa punt that the Bucs recovered.
Shortly after the Evans incident, Bucs defensive lineman William Gholston had to be carted off the field with a neck injury. Tampa lost left tackle Donovan Smith to injury and Winston evidently aggravted his right shoulder injury. The Saints lost left tackle Terron Armstead to a chest injury and starting safety Kenny Vaccaro to a groin injury.
An interesting tidbit for Saints fans: the last two teams to win six consecutive games after starting the season 0-2 went on to win the Super Bowl (Dallas Cowboys, 1993, and New York Giants, 2007). The six-game winning streak is the Saints' longest since they won eight straight to end the 2011 season.
The Saints will play at Buffalo (5-3) on Sunday, Nov. 12 at noon as they try to extend their winning streak to seven games. They will back in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, Nov. 19 vs. the Washington Redskins.
New Orleans Saints key stats
Drew Brees, 22 of 27 for 263 yards with two TDs
Mark Ingram, 16 carries for 77 yards
Alvin Kamara, six catches for 84 yards and one TD
Tampa Bay Buccaneers key stats
Jameis Winston, 7 of 13 for 67 yards
Peyton Barber, 11 carries for 34 yards
DeSean Jackson, two catches for 25 yards
Check out the division football action between the Saints and Buccaneers in Week 9.