The New Orleans Saints saw their season end on Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, dropping the NFC Divisional Round matchup inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 30-20. In the battle of first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady out-dueled Drew Brees and advanced to his 14th career conference championship game.
Here is a look inside the numbers from the Saints' Divisional Round loss.
1: Bucs O-Line Stands Tall Surrendering Just One Sack
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers' offense struggled in both matchups against the Saints in the regular season due to the consistent pressure from the Saints' front four. However, Sunday was a different story. After surrendering 6 sacks and over 16 QB hits in two games, the Tampa Bay offensive line held New Orleans to just 1 sack and 3 QB hits in the most pivotal matchup of the season. The clean pocket allowed Brady time to pick apart the Saints defense, tossing 2 touchdowns and posting a 75.7 QBR.
4: New Orleans Drops the Turnover Battle by 4
"(We) turned it over once, (and) we were still in it. We turned it over twice, we were still in it. Once you get to three and four turnovers, it's hard to combat that. I don't care who you are."
Alvin Kamara on the Saints' Uncharacteristic Turnovers
New Orleans was led by the play of their defense and special teams in the NFC Divisional Round. With a few big plays offensively and timely defensive stops, it appeared that the Saints would knock off the Bucs for the third time this season.
Then the game's turning point occurred as Saints TE Jared Cook fumbled after picking up a first down in Tampa Bay territory. The Bucs would score and take the lead, while New Orleans would turn the ball over two more times in the fourth quarter, putting the game to rest.
20: Drew Brees May Have Played the Final Game of His 20-Year NFL Career
Drew Brees said, “I'm going to give myself an opportunity to think about the season, think about a lot of things, just like I did last year, and make a decision.”
Brees' response is from reports he would retire if the Saints did not win and advance over the Bucs in the Divisional Round. Although he did not give a definitive answer on his future, #9's final glance at the Superdome (pictured above) may be all we need to know about his future in the Black and Gold.
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