No Jameis Winston, no problem for the Buccaneers in NFL’s Week 1, with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the way in a 48-40 Tampa Bay victory over New Orleans.
Fitzpatrick absolutely dominated the Saints’ defense, throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Sunday's effort marked a career high in yardage for the Harvard product, now in his second season with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are Fitzpatrick's seventh team.
Tampa Bay's temporary signal caller found his top targets early and often on Sunday. He hit DeSean Jackson on a 58-yard touchdown strike early in the first quarter, one of two scores for the speedy receiver on the day.
Mike Evans also dominated New Orleans' shaky secondary, snagging seven catches for 147 yards.
Tampa Bay's aerial assault provided a sobering opener for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd. Entering the year with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, New Orleans dropped Week 1 for the fifth-consecutive season, unable to slow down a team most expected to finish in the NFC South's cellar.
Tampa Bay faces another tough test next week, hosting the Super Bowl champion Eagles. But the Bucs will be in good hands if they can conjure up another explosive week of Fitzmagic.