The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went into New Orleans with a lot working against them. First, they were swept by the Saints this season and were outscored 72-26 in those games. Next, they had lost five straight to New Orleans, and finally, the Saints were 7-2 at home, including the playoffs this season.
However, the playoffs are a different animal, and we saw a different Buccaneers team out there against the Saints. The Buccaneers, who committed six turnovers against the Saints in 2020, protected the ball and ended the game with no turnovers, and they forced four Saints’ turnovers, which led to 21 points. They were able to run the ball effectively and finished the game with 127 yards on the ground, which was more than they had in two games against New Orleans.
Based on what happened in the regular season, some might have been surprised by Sunday’s outcome. According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, he was not surprised and expected the Buccaneers to beat the Saints in the Divisional Round.
“It boosts the confidence for sure, but we went there expecting to win,” Arians said on Monday. “It was not a shock to us that we won – we went there expecting to win. We’re such a different team than when we played back in November. Same thing – Green Bay’s a different team than we played back then, so those games don’t really matter anymore.”
Buccaneers DT Ndamukong Suh was happy that the team got another shot at the Saints this season.
“I think it’s definitely having the mindset of understanding that you kind of control your own destiny from a standpoint of how we got into the playoffs and how we finished off into the playoffs being the fifth seed and controlling our mindset in that aspect,” Suh said. “Then, knowing we needed to get on the road and take care of business against Washington and then see where the chips fell. That had us going back to New Orleans, which I was happy about from a standpoint [that] as a team, we needed to go out, challenge and beat [the Saints], which we were fortunate enough to do in a good fashion from the defensive side of the ball [by] getting so many turnovers.
“My intent is all about the keys for us continuing to play at a high level. I think for a young guy like [Devin White] to recognize that and see that as an important piece and knowing that we need to stay focused on that as well as executing, we should be in a good place going into this Packers game.”
The Buccaneers blew out the Packers 38-10 in Week 6. However, that game was in the regular season and played in Tampa Bay. The NFC Championship Game will be in Green Bay. Both of these teams are different now, and we’ll find out how different come Sunday.