The New Orleans Saints, minus their iconic head coach and their two star offensive tackles, relied on exceptional defense to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-0 on Sunday, Dec. 19 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The shut out was just the second in Coach Sean Payton's tenure (20-0 over Dolphins on Oct. 10, 2017 in London). The win improved the Saints to 7-7 and has them in the final wild card spot in the NFC playoffs with four games still to be played in Week 15. The loss dropped Tampa to 10-4 and prevented the Bucs from claiming the NFC South title, which has been won by the Saints the past four seasons.
Defensive end Cameron Jordan, who missed the first game of his career last week because of a positive Covid-19 test, had a massive game, sacking Tampa quarterback Tom Brady twice and forcing a Brady fumble in the third quarter that was recovered by Marshon Lattimore. Marcus Davenport and David Onyemata also had sacks and the Saints defense dominated the league's top offense. Defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson had the second turnover with an interception late in the fourth quarter which allowed the Saints to seal the win, the Saints' fourth straight in the regular season against the Brady-led Bucs.
Tampa had to play the second half without receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and running back Leonard Fournette who all left the game with injuries.
While the Saints offense struggled, especially in the second half, it managed three field goals by kicker Brett Maher (39, 35 and 42 yards) while Tampa missed its lone field-goal attempt. Quarterback Taysom Hill was 13 for 27 for 154 yards with receiver Marquez Callaway catching six passes for 112 yards. Hill carried the ball 11 times for 33 yards
Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen served as the interim head coach with Sean Payton sidelined by a positive Covid-19 test Friday. The win will go on Payton's record, giving him 150 for his career, third among active head coaches.
"Big win for us," Allen said after the game. "I thought our guys played really hard. ... I thought defensively we were really good."
The Saints will play host to the Miami Dolphins (7-7) On Monday, Dec. 27 at the Caesars Superdome.
New Orleans Saints take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season on December 19, 2021.