Saints Win Opener, Defeat Bucs
The New Orleans Saints began their 2020 NFL season in impressive fashion on Sunday.
The Saints defeated their NFC South Division rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 34-23, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
For the Saints, the victory was their second-straight on opening week, following five-straight Week 1 losses between 2014-2018.
Tampa Bay got on the scoreboard first, on their first possession of the game, at the 7:27 mark of the first quarter, when quarterback Tom Brady, in his first game with the Buccaneers, after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, capped off a 9-play, 85-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard plunge, the 23rd rushing touchdown of his illustrious career, giving them a quick 7-0 lead.
With that run, Brady, who is now 43-years old, became the oldest player to ever score a touchdown in the NFL.
New Orleans scored their first points of the year at the 11:39 mark of the second quarter when Drew Brees connected with Alvin Kamara on a 12-yard touchdown pass, completing an 11-play, 64-yard drive, to tie the game, 7-7.
After Marcus Williams intercepted an errant Brady pass on Tampa Bay's next possession, the Saints took the lead at the 10:09 mark on the second period when Kamara scored on a 6-yard scoring run, ending a 3-play, 35-yard drive, giving them their first lead of the contest, 14-7.
New Orleans made it 17-unanswered points with :21 remaining in the half when Wil Lutz made good on a 29-yard field goal, culminating a 10-play, 44-yard drive, to widen their advantage to 17-7.
The score stayed that way as the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms at halftime.
The Saints outgained the Buccaneers, in terms of total yards, in the first half, 138-107, including a 94-71 advantage in passing yards, as well as a 44-36 edge in rushing yards.
Brees paced New Orleans in the initial half, completing 13-of-19 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, while Brady completed 8-of-12 passes for 76 yards in the first half for Tampa Bay while being intercepted once.
The Saints added to their lead by scoring the first points in the second half, courtesy of an interception, followed by a 36-yard return for a touchdown by Janoris Jenkins, giving them 24-unanswered points, to increase their edge to 24-7.
The Buccaneers drew closer at the 12:20 mark of the third quarter when Brady threw his first touchdown pass as a Buc, a 9-yard scoring strike to O.J. Howard, capping off a short 2-play, 75-yard scoring drive, trimming the deficit to 24-14.
Tampa Bay got even closer at the 2:22 mark of the third period when Ryan Succop booted through a 38-yard field goal, completing an 8-play, 69-yard drive, trimming the New Orleans lead to 24-17, a score that held up through three quarters.
The Saints scored the first points of the fourth quarter to give themselves a little breathing room, however, when Brees threw his first touchdown of the season, a 5-yard scoring strike to Emmanuel Sanders with 11:38 remaining, ending a 6-play, 61-yard drive, to extend their lead to 31-17.
New Orleans put the game away at the 8:01 mark of the final frame when Lutz made good on his second field goal of the game, this one from 21 yards away, finishing off a 7-play, 15-yard drive, giving them a commanding 34-17 advantage.
The Buccaneers made the final score a little more respectable, scoring a touchdown with 2:41 to go when Brady tossed a short 2-yard scoring strike to Mike Evans, completing an 11-play, 90-yard drive, before an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt, to make the score 34-23.
That's the way the game ended, as the Saints walked away with the 11-point triumph.
Tampa Bay actually ended up outgaining New Orleans, in terms of total yards, 299-271, including a 224-189 advantage in passing yards, as well as an 86-82 edge in rushing yards.
The Saints were led by Brees, who completed 18-of-30 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns, while Jared Cook had five catches for 80 yards.
In a losing cause for the Buccaneers, Brady completed 26-of-36 for 239 yards, to go along with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
With the victory, the Saints improved to 1-0 on the season, while the Buccaneers dropped to 0-1.
The Saints return to action on Monday night, September 21, when they travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to face the Raiders.