Story and photos by Mark Joseph, senior at St. Augustine High School and Derek Dunbar, senior at St. Augustine High School.
The Saints offense simply showed up with a different type of swagger today against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Teddy Bridgewater pitched the ball back to Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who threw a 13-yard pass to TE Josh Hill for the first down. This particular play shows that the Saints offense is starting to compose and execute creative plays without the help of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
The defense carried the momentum from the previous game against the Cowboys and somehow found a way to improve on it, with a total of six sacks. But the big difference this game was that the offense was also in sync. Many people have speculated that Bridgewater is not ready to be a starting QB, let alone the heir to Drew Brees, but he silenced the haters with his outstanding performance, delivering the Saints to a 31-24 victory.
By the end of the first quarter, the Bucs led the Saints 7-3. Both teams’ defenses were electric, but the offenses struggled to get things going at first. But Teddy and the Saints shook that off with a 34-yard bomb to Michael Thomas.
On one critical fourth down in the first quarter, Kamara gained six yards to keep the Saints’ hopes alive. Unfortunately, the drive only ended in a field goal by Wil Lutz—his 5th consecutive one after the Saints’ touchdown-less performance last week.
That touchdown drought would soon end: the Saints scored their first touchdown in two weeks after a long drive. Thomas played a very dominant role in that drive, finishing up with a 14-yard touchdown after catching a pass from Teddy. With 32 seconds left in the second quarter, Jared Cook scored the second touchdown for the Saints, making the score 17-10.
In the first play of the third quarter, Teddy Bridgewater shot a 41-yard bullet to Michael Thomas. And shortly after, speedster Ted Ginn Jr caught a 33-yard pass for a touchdown. Then the Bucs went for it on 4th and 1 and Godwin made a 14-yard catch.
But at first and goal, A.J. Klein batted down the pass. At second and goal, Demario Davis also slapped the ball down. But at third and goal, the Bucs finally scored with a run by Peyton Barber.
On the next drive, Winston threw a pass to Jesus Wilson, making it third and two. But Lattimore again stopped the offense, forcing the Bucs to punt on fourth and two.
On the Saints subsequent drive, Bridgewater missed both receivers on the first and second downs but launched a 20-yard rocket to Micheal Thomas on third down. The score was 24-17 Saints on top at the end of the third quarter.
At third and three, Teddy tossed to Kamara for the first down. Bridgewater then passed to Thomas for six yards. Then, out of nowhere, Kamara threw it to Hill for that now-infamous six-yard play. At third and three, once again, Teddy found Kamara for the first down. Teddy then found Thomas, who slipped two defenders and went in for the touchdown with 10:37 in the fourth quarter. The score was at 31-17, with the Saints offense not letting up.
Davenport sacked Winston for a loss of nine, but on the second down, he missed Godwin, leaving the Bucs at 3rd and 19. Winston scrambled and threw the ball, hoping that one of his revivers would catch it but to no avail. The Bucs punted but got the ball once again after a failed drive by Bridgewater.
Sheldon Rankins sacked Winston for loss of seven yards. Then there was another sack by Carl Granderson, who celebrated by doing the worm. On third down, Cam Jordan came up with a monstrous sack, leaving the Bucs to punt at 4th and 28. With 13 seconds left on the clock, the Bucs scored but ultimately weren’t able to put away the game.
Saints fans have now had a thorough glimpse at their future without Drew Brees, and that future seems bright. Teddy finished the day with a whopping 314 passing yards and four touchdowns. And Saints fans noticed. After several big plays, the Dome erupted for the first time ever with spontaneous chants of Teddy’s name. And it certainly won’t be the last time he hears it. Saints won 31-24.
Next week the Saints take on Gardner Minshew II and the Jacksonville Jaguars. But they look ready for it.