BUCS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : NEW ORLEANS
By Leo Haggerty

I truly debated not even writing a column after the Bucs, starting the second half with a 14-3 lead, were outscored 25-0 in the second half. You do the math. That’s a 28-14 road victory for the Saints in game where Tampa Bay completely imploded in the last thirty minutes in all three phases of the game.

On offense, the Pewter Pirates had trouble even making a first down after halftime. The running game was non-existent. The passing game was terrible with QB Jameis Winston being constantly high with his throws due to the fact that #3 was under constant pressure from the New Orleans defensive line. With virtually no threat of a run, the Saints were like a tidal wave coming at the Bucs QB.

This ineptitude on offense led to a major collapse of the Buccaneers defense. Because the Buccaneers offense couldn’t stay on the field, the Tampa Bay defense spent an inordinate time on the field leaving them pretty much spent by the fourth quarter. Add the fact that when the Pewter Pirates needed a stop to get off the field, it just didn’t happen.

On special teams, the kicking game was the real Achilles heel for Bucs. K Cairo Santos missed two field goals with the momentum-stopping one being early in the third quarter, after a Saints turnover, that would have put Tampa Bay up 17-3. To add insult to injury, P Bryan Anger had a punt blocked that led directly to points for the Saints by backup QB Taysom Hill. Yeah, you read that right.

So Tampa Bay, after a first half where they looked like a possible playoff contender, morphed into the playoff pretender they are. Now, Bucs players and coaches aren’t competing for position in the post-season but to see if ownership will keep them around for another year.