The New Orleans Saints (6-2) defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) by the score of 38-3 Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium. The Saints jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
QB Drew Brees out-dueled fellow future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady, completing 26 of 32 passes for 222 yards and 4 TDs en route to New Orleans' fifth consecutive victory. Here are my three takeaways from Sunday night's action.
Taysom Hill is Back
Sunday night was easily Taysom Hill's most convincing performance of the 2020 season. Hill ran three times for 38 yards in the first half, including a highlight hurdle to conclude a 21-yard first-down scramble.
Hill tallied one more explosive play (a play of 20+ yards) on a 21-yard reception from Drew Brees on one of the Saints four first-half touchdown drives.
Hill's final stat line was video game-like. The BYU product finished the game with 48 passing yards, 54 rushing yards (led team), and 21 receiving yards.
The Swiss Army Knife's slow start to the season was faced with criticism from fans and media. Many questioned his 2-year, $21M contract extension from the Saints. Sunday night, Hill and the New Orleans Saints played their best game of the season. The hope is for the stellar play to trickle into the remainder of 2020.
New Orleans' Defense Proves to Be Brady's Kryptonite
New Orleans' secondary has been horrid through the first half of the 2020 season, surrendering big plays, committing countless penalties, and allowing mental lapses game after game. In two games against the six-time Super Bowl champion QB, the Saints defense has picked off Brady 5 times, including 3 INTs on Sunday night.
Dennis Allen's defense put together their best performance of the season, holding the Buccaneers to under 200 yards of total offense and compiling 3 sacks and 3 turnovers. The Saints' offense deserves a lot of credit too, the complimentary style of football made Tom Brady's offense one-dimensional as the Buccaneers set an NFL record for fewest rushing attempts in a single game (5).
With an early the lead the New Orleans defense was able to take risks, get pressure to Brady and force turnovers. The defensive unit looked a lot like the Saints' defenses of 2017 and 2018. The swagger, the relentless pursuit and ability to make big plays were all things missing from this year's group. It looks like they found it in the biggest game of the year and for Who Dat Nation's sake it better be here to stay.
Saints Hold Keys to Their Destiny by Sweeping Bucs
As the Saints approached this week's matchup, there were many storylines and playoff implications. That pressure did not seem to phase the players. They performed exceptionally well in their best game of the season. The 2020 New Orleans Saints became the first division rival ever to sweep Tom Brady in his two decade long career.
The victory moves the Saints into first place in the NFC South at 6-2. New Orleans' remaining schedule is a favorable one. Nevertheless, the Saints will face one team with a winning record, the Super Bowl Champions, Kansas City Chiefs.
Riding a five-game winning streak, playing their best football of the year, and headed into a favorable part of the schedule are all things that bode well for the Saints as they make their playoff push.
On Sunday night, the rest of the NFL was given a warning. New Orleans is healthy, has swagger, and confidence is sky-high after dominating one of the football hottest teams in the NFL. With eight games left, this could be the beginning of a remarkable run to close out 2020. Sean Payton's squad is getting ready for the playoffs, and the league should watch out.
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