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Turning Point of the Game

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New Orleans Saints Turning Point in win over Buccaneers, presented by Eustis Insurance

Saints throw (Jack)rabbit (Jenkins) punch to cushion lead against Tampa Bay

A 10-point halftime lead, with Tampa Bay set to open the third quarter with possession of the football, wasn't exactly a safe haven for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Given what the Buccaneers were able to accomplish on their first possession of the game – a nine-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that lasted 4:53 – and the fact that quarterback Tom Brady has produced several dozen second-half comebacks during his Hall of Fame career, it was reasonable to expect Tampa Bay to make a push.

The Saints pushed back first. Cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins pushed back hardest.

On Tampa Bay's fifth play of the third quarter, with the Buccaneers on their 32-yard line and facing second-and-15 after a penalty, the convergence of Jenkins' film study and athletic ability combined to make a 17-7 lead a 24-7 advantage, and put the Saints on their way to a 34-23 win in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Brady took a snap in shotgun formation and looked for receiver Justin Watson on a quick out on the right sideline. Jenkins, who said he noticed a tendency for Tampa Bay to run that play in past seasons, read it perfectly and easily sliced in front of Watson for his first interception this season.

Thirty-six yards later, Jenkins was in the end zone with the eighth defensive touchdown of his career, tied for eighth-most in NFL history, and the Saints had a 17-point lead with 13:13 left in the third quarter.

It was Brady's second interception of the game, and each led to a Saints touchdown.

"(The first interception) was a miscommunication between (Brady) and (receiver) Mike (Evans)," Tampa Bay Coach Bruce Arians said. "He thought Mike was going down the middle – it was a different coverage – Mike read it right.

"The other one was a screen pass with an outlet called. He threw the outlet and it was a pick-six."

For the Saints, it was a Rabbit punch.

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