BUCS RECAP – WEEK 15 – DECEMBER 19
By Leo Haggerty

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

The week started out, like every other week this season, with normal practices on Wednesday and Thursday that I attended as you will see from the pictures including in this column.  Then, Covid reared its ugly head again and the National Football League reacted, and rightfully so, initiating new protocol to combat the spread of the disease.

With the new Covid outbreak effecting numerous teams in the National Football League, the Buccaneers and the rest of the NFL franchises have returned to strictly Zoom interview session.  Had a chance to get a football question in with HC Bruce Arians and below was his response..

LH : On the touchdown run by Fournette, Donovan Smith gets to the third level and steamrollers a defensive back.  How important is for a 300 pound plus lineman to get down the field and throw an important block like that?

BA : That was big. I think all of the offensive line guys liked that one. Nobody liked it more than Leonard. It ignited the sideline pretty good.

On a perfect December night for football in Tampa, with the temperature in the low 70’s, New Orleans came into Raymond James Stadium and not only beat Tampa Bay but shut the Buccaneers out by a score of 9-0.  The loss dropped the Bucs to 10-4 and prevented the Pewter Pirates from clinching the National Football Conference South Division.  The victory put the Saints at 7-7 and right back into the hunt for a playoff berth.

After an exchange of punts, the Saints dented the scoreboard first at 5:44 of the opening period.  K Brett Maher drilled a 39 field goal to finish off a nine play drive that travelled 60 yards in 4:22.  That gave the Big Easy Gang an early 3-0 lead.

New Orleans padded their lead on the first play of the second quarter.  Again, it was Maher this time from 35 yards with the field goal.  That ended an eight play drive that consumed 3:53 of clock time traversing 40 yards.  That pushed the Saints lead to 6-zip.

After a scoreless third period, The Big Easy Gang tacked on to their advantage at 7:32 of the final quarter.  For the third time, Mahar split the uprights this time from 42 yards out.  That culminated a 10 play drive that went 42 yards in 4:33.  That stretched the Saints lead to 9-0 and that would be the final arithmetic for the contest.

With the Zoom interviews now back into play, access is severely limited from a post game standpoint.  Did have an opportunity to catch up with S Jordan Whitehead and OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and their responses to my questions are below..

LH : Did the Saints do anything on offense that you didn’t expect?

JW : No, they ran the ball and threw it a couple of times and some bootlegs. That’s what we expected.

LH : When you see all of those playmakers go down on offense, does it go through your mind that the defense has to kick it up a notch?

JTS : Most definitely, we have to help the team out in anyway we can. looking for that spark, that’s what we needed to do.

So, it’s back to the drawing board to prepare for a Christmas weekend trip to Carolina to play the Panthers.  Kickoff, now I have to say Covid permitting, is scheduled for 1 PM.  Look for my update that evening.

Merry Christmas and stay safe.