Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
The New Orleans Saints tied up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the standings by trouncing them 41-0 thanks to four touchdowns by Drew Brees and four interceptions by Josh Freeman.
It was never really close, as the Saints clicked on both sides of the ball early: Drew Brees had 216 yards passing and three touchdowns in the first half, hitting David Thomas, Darren Sproles, finishing with a strike to Lance Moore just before the half. On the other side of the ball, they completely shut down the Buccaneers, coaxing Josh Freeman into two picks and holding the team to exactly 100 yards of total offense in the first half.
With the rout on, the story stayed the same in the second half, with Freeman throwing a third pick on his team's first drive before Brees tossed a fourth touchdown on the ensuing drive. The only drama would be whether the Saints would hold on for the shutout. Tampa Bay finally got the ball into the red zone late in the third quarter, but opted to go for it on fourth rather than kick a field goal to make it 31-3, and came up short. The Bucs never threatened again and Freeman added another pick to his ugly day before being subbed out for Dan Orlovsky.
Winners: The Saints defense. Any time there's a shutout, the team doing the shutting out deserves some praise. The four picks were the most notable aspect of their dominant day from the stat sheet, but this was a complete shutdown effort by New Orleans. When the Buccaneers ran the ball, they did no better, holding Doug Martin to 16 yards on nine rushes. Jabari Greer had two of the picks.
Losers: Freeman, who eventually ended up with a decent amount of passing yards, but made some really, really poor decisions with the ball leading to the four New Orleans interceptions. He also fumbled a ball late.
Reactions/tweets/comments from fans/media
The Saints look like a playoff team.— Canal St. Chronicles (@CSCtweet) December 16, 2012
Great arm punt, though.— Sander Philipse (@Bucs_Nation) December 16, 2012
Found a 2001 Mastodon live concert. Hell of a lot more interesting than this game. youtube.com/watch?v=xDOPwm…— Sander Philipse (@Bucs_Nation) December 16, 2012
Best/worst stat of the game:
Fantasy studs/duds: Drew Brees was obviously the star, and the only reason he stopped racking up points was the fact that the game got so far out of hand. He had 216 yards passing and three touchdowns in the first half en route to 307 and four touchdowns.
Doug Martin would have been an awful fantasy play, as the Bucs starting running back managed only 16 yards.
Odds/Gambling: The Saints were 4.5-point favorites, so they covered easily.
Injury info: Fullback Jed Collins was injured for the Saints on the opening kickoff, but he later returned to the game with a sleeve on his knee. Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who picked up some early penalties, began cramping late, but it obviously wasn't serious and he returned to the game.
Next team on the schedule
10/23, New Orleans at Dallas, 1 p.m.
10/23, Tampa Bay vs. St. Louis, 1 p.m.