Saints Lose Winston, Beat Bucs In NFC South Showdown 36-27
The New Orleans Saints lost starting quarterback Jameis Winston but rallied late to hold off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a huge 36-27 NFC South victory.
With the win, the Saints are now 5-2 this season. They are 1-1 in divisional play and 2-1 in the Caesars Superdome.
The Saints defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, but the offense was unable to convert a fourth-and-one near midfield in their own territory, and Tampa Bay took over on downs.
The Buccaneers took advantage of the short field, only needing six plays to score the opening touchdown of the game.
New Orleans answered with an 11-play scoring drive. Winston took a late hit but delivered a beautiful pass to wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith for a 16-yard touchdown to tie the game.
After the Saints defense forced another punt, the Saints offense started their third drive at their own eight. On the second play of the possession, Winston was illegally tackled and injured. He did not return, and backup quarterback Trevor Siemian took his place.
The drive stalled and New Orleans punted, but, on the next possession, a sack-fumble by defensive end Cam Jordan gave the Saints defense their first turnover.
Assisted by some roughing the passer penalties, the Saints offense made it into the red zone but settled for a 23-yard field goal to gain their first lead of the night.
On the next drive, Saints defensive back C. J. Gardner-Johnson intercepted Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady for the second turnover of the first half.
The Saints offense took advantage of the turnover, quickly driving into the red zone in two plays. On third-and-goal, Siemian found fullback Alex Armah for the one-yard touchdown. The extra point missed, but the Saints took a 16-7 lead before halftime.
To start the second half, Siemian hit wide receiver Kevin White for a 38-yard gain.
Later in the drive, on fourth-and-four, Siemian completed a pass to Deonte Harris for a seven-yard gain and a first down. On fourth-and-goal from the one, Kamara used a great block by tight end Adam Trautman to take a pitch into the end zone to increase the Saints lead to 23-7.
The Bucs answered with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to get the game within nine points, and the Saints offense started struggling.
After a three-and-out, Brady connected with wide receiver Mike Evans for a 41-yard touchdown to make it 23-21. The Saints offense responded with another three-and-out.
The Saints offense finally got a drive going after the defense managed to force a punt, driving into the red zone again. However, a missed throw by Siemian on third down made them settle for a 35-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 26-21.
On the next possession, a blown coverage at midfield by the Saints defense allowed a receiver to run untouched for a 50-yard touchdown, and the Buccaneers took their first lead since the first quarter. The Saints stuffed a two-point conversion but trailed 27-26 late in the fourth quarter.
Siemian marched the Saints offense on a 12-play, 70-yard drive to the Bucs five yard-line but once again had to settle for a field goal to retake the lead at 29-27.
With 1:44 left in the game and the Buccaneers having one timeout remaining, it was up to the Saints defense to come up with a stop. This time, PJ Williams sealed the win with a pick-six.
The Superdome erupted, and, with two sacks on the final drive, the Saints defense got a turnover on downs and ran out the clock to improve to 5-2 this season.
Up next, the Saints host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Nov. 7. The Falcons are 3-4 this season after dropping their game this week to the Carolina Panthers 19-13.