NEW ORLEANS – There is a sound resonating throughout Tampa Bay – “Jameis Who?”
Ryan Fitzpatrick lit up the New Orleans Saints defense today for a 48-40 victory for the Tampa Bay Bucs at the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
Fitzpatrick looked like a Pro Bowler. He completed 21-of-28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns and a solid 156.2 rating. The passer rating and passing yards were career highs, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. He also ran for 36 yards and a touchdown. Tampa Bay out gained New Orleans 529-475 yards.
“I think that is one of the benefits of having a guy with his experience.” said Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter. “Fitz is just a solid, solid guy. I thought that Fitz did an awesome job of just giving guys a chance just to make plays.”
It’s one game, and James Winston has two more games left on his suspension. The Buccaneers brass let it be known that when Winston returns from his 4-game suspension that his starting spot is not guaranteed.
Winston got himself suspended for an incident in which he groped an Uber driver, a continuation of Winston’s poor off field decisions that dates back to Florida State.
There were a lot of breakdowns by the Saints defense, but give Fitzpatrick credit for finding almost every single one.
Fitzpatrick started fast with a deep touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson. He constantly found holes in the Saints’ defense, especially to Mike Evans.
The Saints were considered a Super Bowl contender and were expected to rout the Bucs today.
“To win on the road against a division team, NFL team, in a place like this, against a team like that, against a quarterback like that, that is huge.” Said Koetter “It’s is a huge way to start your season. I do not think that anyone in here was picking us. So, are you kidding me? That’s a huge plus.”
Today’s score marks the most points scored on opening weekend in NFL history with a total of 88 points, the previous record was 87, when the Eagles defeated the Redskins 45-42 on September 28, 1947.
Quarterback Drew Brees, completed 37-of-45 passes for a total of 439 yards, three touchdowns and a 129.5 passer rating. Brees’ 28-yard touchdown to Ted Ginn Jr. gives him the most touchdown passes in season-opening games in NFL history.
There were some positive takeaways for the Saints, mostly on offense as Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas carried the group to 475 total yards and 40 points. However, two lost fumbles, one by Thomas and one by running back Mike Gillislee, proved costly on an otherwise productive day.
The defense, meanwhile, had few highlights as the Buccaneers gained 529 total yards and scored 31 points. When asked about which defensive breakdown the Saints had, Payton said, “Take your pick.”
The Bucs move on to face the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in Tampa next week, while the Saints face the Cleveland Browns at home.