John DeShazier | Senior Writer - NewOrleansSaints.com
Forty-eight points were scored by Tampa Bay against the Saints in New Orleans’ season-opening loss, to go along with 529 yards allowed (417 passing) and six touchdowns.
But the defense, Coach Sean Payton said, wasn’t the problem.
“In that first game, conventional wisdom is, ‘Well, we’ve gotta play better defense,’ ” he said. “And I would argue, if we protect the ball, that was the difference.
“Last week was a lower-scoring game (a 13-10 loss to Dallas). You’re going to get in those type of (high-scoring) games. Now, relative to the defense (presently), I think we’re generating a pass rush, I think the takeaways are noticeable and I think you begin to gain confidence as a unit when you start having some success. And I think we’ve had some success, and each week it’s carried over.
“But the turnovers were the difference in Week 1.”
He’s not wrong. Running back Mike Gillislee’s fumble was recovered and returned for a touchdown by Tampa Bay safety Justin Evans, giving the Buccaneers a 31-17 lead in the second quarter, and receiver Michael Thomas’ fumble was recovered by Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith at the Tampa Bay 32 with New Orleans trailing 41-24 in the third. ...
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