Saints pour it on Bucs
When it rains, it pours and the New Orleans Saints (6-8) certainly poured down a thunderstorm on division rivals Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) in a 41-0 shutout win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Sunday. The Saints came out with a touchdown on their first drive and didn’t look back since as quarterback Drew Brees finished the day with 307 yards and four touchdowns passing.
New Orleans had been on a three-game skid with its most recent lost being in New York to the New York Giants. The team looked all but exceptional in that game, but against Tampa Bay the Saints marched on in.
“Obviously there was a renewed focus, maybe a new set of goals for these last three weeks the way we want to close out the season,” Brees said after the game. “Certainly, there was a sense of urgency, also coming back home in front of our fans against a divisional opponent”
Brees and the offense had a balanced attack of passing and rushing. Running back Mark Ingram led the way on the ground with 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. In total the Saints rushed for 149 yards with five different runners including Ingram and Brees. Tight end Jimmy Graham was Brees’ favorite target of the day leading the team with five catches for 69 yards.
Not only did the Saints offense surge, but the defense did too forcing five turnovers, all on Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman threw four interceptions and fumbled once on a sack by defensive end Cameron Jordan. The Saints defense held the Bucs to zero points, the first time they’ve done so since the 1995 season. Cornerback Jabari Greer picked off Josh Freeman twice in the game, tying his career-high for most picks in the game.
“It’s special, because we’re playing professional football,” Greer said on holding the Bucs scoreless. “These are professional, prideful football players that fight for everything. They didn’t let up one bit.”
Interim head coach Joe Vitt came out and right away mentioned the fan support that had the dome rocking. He said the Saints have the best fans in the NFL.
“We understand our strong obligation we have to our fans and (are determined to) not let them down,” Vitt said. “Today was a good day for our football team and certainly we’re proud of the way we played in front of our fans.”
The Saints have always been known to be a resilient team, especially since the arrival of Brees. But, Vitt said he’s been around the league for 34 years and he can count on one hand the amount of shutout victories he’s been part of.
“It’s certainly a tribute to Steve Spagnuolo and his staff and players, the way they’ve stuck together,” Vitt said. “If anybody in this room ever envisioned a shutout after the first couple of games this year, you couldn’t have predicted that. That’s staying the course with the right players and the right coaches and the right attitude and the right teaching and the proper accountability.”
New Orleans knows it can't dwell on this victory long as it prepares to travel to Dallas, Texas next week to meet the Cowboys (8-6).