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Observations from New Orleans Saints 20-10 loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 2022 NFL Week 2

Defense gave the team a chance to win

1. D Up: The New Orleans Saints came up short in the 20-10 loss Sunday, but it wasn't because of the play of the defense, which gave the Saints a chance to win up until the end. After a self-admitted rough outing last week against the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans again stymied Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to only one offensive touchdown and two field goals. Tampa did not score until a Ryan Succop's 47-yard field goal in the third quarter, snapping a six and a half quarter scoreless streak against the Saints defense. After Leonard Fournette torched Dallas last week for 122 yards on 21 carries, the Saints defense held him to 65 yards on 24 carries, just a 2.7 average per carry. Brady was a little more effective than Fournette, but still in the grand scheme of things, pedestrian, throwing for 190 yards and a quarterback rating of 79.3. If there is a caveat, for the second straight week, the defense was unable to get to the quarterback, sacking Brady only once, despite a makeshift Tampa offensive line. In two games, the Saints defense has registered just one sack.

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2. Self inflicted wounds: This game was there for the taking, even after the Bucs tied it at 3 midway through the third quarter, the feeling was the Saints still had the game under control. Starting at the 6:44 mark of the third, the Saints offense marched down the field, using mostly running plays by Mark Ingram II and Dwayne Washington, who got the Saints to a first-and-10 at the Tampa 20. Ingram then got the carry on the next play and busted it up the middle for another chunk play. Unfortunately, despite covering the ball with both arms, the ball was punched out by Logan Ryan and recovered by Carl Nassib at the 10-yard line. A would-be Saints score turned into no points, and led to barrage of Saints turnovers in the final 13 minutes which ultimately led to the Saints demise. When the dust settled, the Saints turned it over five times to the Bucs' one, a ratio that makes winning in the NFL virtually impossible.

3. Bad blood: The rivalry between the Saints and Buccaneers is well-documented. Now division rivals for the last 20 years, it has reached the boiling point often, in the last decade especially. A "game within the game" in the last five years has been the battle between Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans. In the fourth quarter, with the score still tied at 3, the Saints made a big stop on a third-and-five with an incomplete pass from their own 29-yard line. Seemingly innocent, the Saints looked to receive a punt. That's when all hell broke loose. First, Fournette shoved Lattimore, who retaliated with a push. Then, Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans slammed Lattimore to the turf, setting off a mini melee on the field. When cooler heads finally prevailed, Evans and Lattimore were ejected, with the ruling coming down from the NFL office in New York. The exchange ultimately favored Tampa, as the Bucs lost a receiver, but the Saints lost their best cover cornerback. One series later, the Bucs would score the only offensive touchdown of the game, a 28- yard TD pass from Brady to Breshard Perriman, a situation which if Lattimore was in the game, the play might never have occurred. Ultimately though, it did, and Tampa without question benefitted from the call.

New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 2 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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