Tampa cashed in on a spot in the NFC Championship, as they thumped the Saints 30-20
Tampa- The Bucs defense stepped up when it matter, as they got the last laugh over the Saints.
Prior to the game against the New Orleans Saints, one of the story lines throughout the week was the fact that the Bucs were 0-2 in head to head match-ups against the Saints this season. Tampa has struggled to get any pass rush on New Orleans and New Orleans took advantage of it both times. With a winner takes all concept, the Bucs were ready to show the Saints that they have improved since their last match-up.
Missed tackles by Tampa on special teams, put the Saints in good field position at the start of the game. The Bucs' defense stopped the Saints on a third and goal and forced them to kick a field goal, 3-0. After a quick three and out by Tampa, New Orleans took a punt return to the house, but a block in the back negated the score. Tampa did a good job stopping New orleans from punching the ball in the endzone and once again the Saints had to settle for their second field goal late in the first, 6-0.
Tom Brady started to heat up at the start of the second, as he hit completed five straight passes. He marched his team down the field, but failed to convert on a third and short and had to settle for a Ryan Succop 26-yard field goal, 6-3.
Sean Murphy-Bunting picked off Drew Brees, which put the ball at the Saints three- yard line with 11 minutes left in the half. Brady took advantage of it and hit Mike Evans for a three-yard touchdown pass to take the lead for the first time of the day, 10-6. After the Buc's scored, their defense fell asleep. Saints' backup QB Jameis Winston threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead 13-10. Before the end of the half, the Bucs tacked on a field goal to tie the game up, 13-13 as time expired.
In the second half, the Bucs' continued to struggle with stopping Alvin Kamara on the ground. Kamara was averaging almost five yards a carry. and ate up a lot of time on the clock. Antoine Winfield halted anthor Saints' score, as he forced a fumble, which set up a potential score for Tampa. Brady turned the takeaway into points, as he hit Leonard Fournette for a six-yard touchdown score to tie up the game at 20 late into the third quarter.
The Bucs tacked on a field goal with under ten minutes left in regulation. Brees threw another pick to the Bucs and they tacked on another touchdown to ice the game.