Bucs-Saints brawl as defense helps Tampa Bay pull away in fourth quarter

Jarrett Bell

NEW ORLEANS — Turns out that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t need Mike Evans to put away the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Not when the Bucs defense was there to inflict the finishing blows.

With Evans and his Saints nemesis, Marshon Lattimore, ejected early in the fourth quarter for their roles in a mini-brawl, Tampa Bay collected three fourth-quarter interceptions of Jameis Winston – including one that was returned 68 yards for a touchdown by Mike Edwards – to seize the momentum that led to a 20-10 victory.

The result snapped a seven-game regular-season winning streak for the Saints (1-1) against their bitter NFC South rival. The Bucs improved to 2-0.

'NO CHEAP SHOT': Mike Evans could've cost Bucs, but defense bailed them out

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Bucs WR Mike Evans was ejected as part of a fourth-quarter brawl Sunday against the Saints.

Tom Brady endured what has become the typical rough treatment from the Saints defense but helped snap the streak with a 28-yard scoring strike to Breshad Perriman that broke a 3-all tie – and undoubtedly took advantage of the absence of Lattimore, the Saints’ best pass coverer.

It was no surprise that Evans and Lattimore were in the middle of the mayhem when tempers flared during the fourth quarter at Caesars Superdome.

Evans and Lattimore have been there before.

They were both ejected with just under 13 minutes on the clock after a mini brawl escalated when Evans shoved Lattimore to the turf. Lattimore and safety Marcus Maye jawed with several Bucs, including Brady, after the Saints broke up a deep third-down pass to force a punt.

Although he wasn’t ejected, it appeared that Bucs running back Leonard Fournette may have struck the first blow in striking Lattimore.

Nonetheless, there’s no love lost between Evans and Lattimore, with a feud dating to Lattimore’s rookie year in 2017. Evans was suspended for one game after he came off the bench to shove Lattimore and ignite a brawl.

Now it’s natural to expect the NFL will review Sunday’s incident to determine whether additional discipline is warranted.

Brady was 18-of-34 for 190 yards passing, with a touchdown and no picks. His passer rating of 79.3 was mediocre, but it was the best at Caesars Superdome on Sunday. Winston, picked three times, finished with a 55.8 rating, completing 25 of 40 passes for 236 yards with a TD.


Bucs injuries piling up: Tampa Bay came to town with a depleted wide receiver corps as Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) nurse injuries sustained last weekend at Dallas. The O-line was missing a major cog with left tackle Donovan Smith dealing unable to play after suffering a hyperextended elbow in Week 1. Then came the game. Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (foot) and Smith’s replacement, Josh Wells (calf), were knocked out for the game after suffering injuries in the first half. In the second half, backup running back Giovani Bernard was also knocked out.

Taysom contained: After opening the season with explosive impact against Atlanta, Taysom Hill had no such spark against the Bucs. Tampa Bay’s defense limited Hill – officially a tight end, but also a change-of-pace wildcat quarterback – to 14 yards on three carries. Hill ripped off a 13-yard run on his first play from the shotgun, which juiced the opening New Orleans drive that ended with a Will Lutz field goal. But Hill was smothered for a 2-yard loss and limited to a 3-yard gain on subsequent carries. In Week 1 against the Falcons, Hill rushed 4 times for 81 yards, including a 57-yard TD run on his first play from the wildcat formation.