The Saints and Bucs started the season with a hard fought battle. New Orleans and Tampa Bay are largely considered the top two teams in the NFC South. Tampa Bay won the division in 2007, and New Orleans won it in 2006. Most considered this to be a battle between a top defense and top offense. The Saints offense started strong but was held in check for a large part of the game.
New Orleans started off with a couple big plays and a touchdown from Brees to Patten. On the Saints very next possession Tampa Bay showed why their defense has been so highly touted. Phillip Buchanon took a Brees pass the opposite direction 26 yards for a touchdown. After lots of excitement in the beginning of the first quarter the game slowed down until the end of the third quarter.
The Saints struck late in the third with an 84 yard TD catch by Devery Henderson, his only catch of the day. Shortly afterwards the Bucs marched down the field and scored on a 2 yard out route to Ike Hilliard. The Saints finish off the days scoring with a great catch and run by Reggie Bush for 42 yards.
Tampa Bay was able to do several things that they wanted to do but had a role reversal of sorts. The Saints were beat by big plays last year, but Tampa was the one that allowed big plays today. The Saints were able to get pressure on Garcia with their front four which helped them not give up big plays. The Bucs were able to spread the ball around but were never able to find something that really worked for them.
Each team played to its strength, but the biggest surprise to me was the play of the Saints defense. New Orleans got solid play from its secondary and its defensive line. Specifically, Tracy Porter broke up several 3rd down passes and helped keep Tampa out of the end zone once. Overall it was a back and forth game but New Orleans pulled it out with solid play on both sides of the ball.