Instant replay: Big mo carries Saints past Bucs, back to number one seed in NFC
The Saints were better on both lines, and were clearly better at running back. But, here they were, trailing 14-3 with seven and a half minutes to play in the third quarter.
That’s when Taysom Hill made one of, if not the biggest play of the season. He blocked a Bucs punt that was recovered at the 30 yard line. 5 plays later, the Saints scored a touchdown and added a two point conversion. They were on their way to a 25 point second half and a 28-14 win over the Bucs.
The Saints then dialed up the pressure, getting sacks by linebacker AJ Klein and defensive end Cam Jordan on the next Tampa Bay series. Jordan’s sack was set up by interior pressure from defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who continues his stellar play.
Rankins added a sack, one tackle for a loss, and three quarterback hurries, despite playing only 63 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
Five Saints played 93 percent or more of the defensive snaps, including safety Marcus Williams, who played every down on defense.
The Saints offense continued to get creative, especially in the red zone. On the one yard touchdown pass to fullback Zach Line, Line faked a block in the middle, fake another on the corner rusher, and then released into the left flat. He was wide open.
The Saints are especially good at implementing those wrinkles in the red zone.
After looking at the tape, the biggest take off Saints Bucs is this. The Saints are built from the inside out, heavily investing in their offensive and defensive lines. Their superiority in those categories was clearly evident Sunday in Tampa.
And, the building of a foundation has paid off in a chance to have homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs.