It’s been a total team effort all the way around for the New Orleans Saints during their winning streak, which has now reached 3 straight in a row without starting QB Drew Brees in the their line-up.
But it would be more than fair to say that today’s 31-24 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a simple case of many standout individual efforts that all came together for the Black and Gold, at just the right time.
Bolstered by the best individual performance since his arrival last year by Saints back-up QB Teddy Bridgewater, New Orleans “breezed” to its 3rd straight win and improved their win-loss record to (4-1) overall, and maintained sole possession of 1st place in the NFC South Division.
Bridgewater was razor-sharp for the most part, and silenced many of his biggest critics and detractors while clearly demonstrating the capability to throw passes deep down-field; as he completed 25-out-of 33-passes for 314 yards with 4 touchdown passes.
New Orleans took a 17-10 lead into halftime as Bridgewater completed 15 of 18 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. The 2nd score came when he hit tight end Jared Cook for a 9-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left to play in the 2nd Quarter. It was Cook’s first TD since joining the team during the off-season.
Bridgewater then would open up the 3rd quarter “red-hot”, as he first found Saints All-Pro WR Michael Thomas for a 42-yard completion; and then fired a dart down the middle of the field to a wide-open Ted Ginn Jr. for a 33-yard touchdown and a 24-10 lead with 13:50 to go in the 3rd quarter.
— NFL (@NFL) October 6, 2019
After the Buccaneers cut the lead back down to 24-17, New Orleans went up 31-17 with 10:37 to play on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Thomas, who finished with 11 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns. That gave the Saints a two-score lead that they would maintain until the game’s final whistle.
“I felt like we did a good job protecting for him (Bridgewater) and we got the ball down the field,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said to the media in his post-game press conference.
Along with Thomas, Bridgewater and the Saints were aided by a handful of individual efforts that were turned in over the course of the contest; such as running back Alvin Kamara; who rushed 16 times for 62 yards, caught six passes for 42 yards, and completed a 13-yard pass. on a “halfback option”.
Not to be outdone: the Saints defense also had another stellar overall performance for a 3rd week in a row; as they sacked Tampa Bay starting QB Jameis Winston six times. “I thought we did a good job disrupting the passer,” Payton said.
But just as it was with the Saints offense, it was the combined individual efforts of several players on the Saints defensive unit that ultimately led the Black and Gold to another victory.
2nd year defensive end Marcus Davenport had two sacks in what might have been his finest performance so far since the team drafted him with their #1 draft pick last year, and 3rd year starting CB Marshon Lattimore completely “shut down” Bucs All-Pro WR Mike Evans; holding him without a single catch for the first time in the last 65 games.
As a result of those combined efforts: the Saints continue to win games impressively despite the absence of Brees — and have served notice to the rest of the NFL that they are indeed a team that will have to be reckoned with at the end of the year — no matter who the quarterback is.
The Saints will travel to the east coast of Florida next Sunday, to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game will be televised regionally on CBS; and will be shown locally in NOLA on WWL-TV New Orleans Channel 4…..