After three straight losses, it was easy to assume that the Bucs would be ready for a fight against their division rivals. Instead, the Bucs looked like the 2011 team that lost 10 straight games to end the season and got shutout in the Superdome, 41-0.
The Bucs were absolutely dreadful on offense, which is where they have excelled this season.
Quarterback Josh Freeman had, by far, his worst game of the season. He was off on his deep throws all afternoon and had way too many costly turnovers when the Bucs were in scoring position. Freeman finished 26-of-47 for 279 yards with five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble lost) before being benched late in the game.
As bad as Freeman was, the running game was worse. Until late in the fourth quarter, defensive back Keith Tandy was the team's leading rusher after he gained 18 yards on a fake punt. You read that correctly; a defensive back led the Bucs in rushing until LeGarrette Blount got some garbage time carries. Doug Martin was bottled up all afternoon and had just 16 yards on nine carries. Blount had 25 yards on four carries.
On the other side, quarterback Drew Brees was fantastic and carved up the Bucs defense all day long. After throwing seven interceptions and just one touchdown in the last two games, Brees finished 26-of-39 for 307 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Even the Bucs' No. 1 run defense couldn't hold up its end of the bargain and got annihilated by the Saints. Running back Mark Ingram had 90 rushing yards on just 14 carries with one touchdown. As a team, the Saints had 149 yards against the Bucs, who came in only allowing just 82 yards per game on the ground.
After this loss, the Bucs now move to 6-8 on the season and need to beat the St. Louis Rams at home next week and the Atlanta Falcons on the road in the final week of the season if they want to end up at .500.
Tags: Doug Martin, Drew brees, Football, Josh Freeman, Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers