NEW ORLEANS — A lot to unpack in this one.
The Saints went toe-to-toe with the Super Bowl favorites for three quarters.
And if not for Mark Ingram's fumble at the end of the third quarter, they likely would have won.
The fourth quarter was hard to watch, but there are positives coming out of this game, in fact there are several:
Takeaway #4 | The Fight
Everyone remembers the fight. I think I could do four takeaways on just that.
First of all, the NFL correctly suspended Mike Evans, and only Mike Evans, for one game saying, "Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury."
If the refs were going to toss Marshon Lattimore for chirping that led to the fight, they definitely should have tossed Leonard Fournette for actually pushing first and starting the fight.
And because the Saints were already without Paulson Adebo, I think losing Lattimore hurt the Saints more than Tampa losing Evans.
Tom Brady was also in the middle of it. He's 45-years-old and has mountains of money, and he's not backing down.
Look, I know hating on Tom Brady is sort of an American tradition, but part of the reason he's been so successful is because in his 23rd NFL season, he's still THAT guy.
Although, he was out of the way by the time the actual fighting began.
#3 | Evidence of how good Saints defense can be
I think Demario Davis and Pete Werner were playing out of their minds on their first seven possessions.
I'm not counting the kneel down at the end of the half. The Buccaneers had four punts and one field goal, and this drive was 28 yards.
The Bucs ran for 152 yards, 4.6 yards a carry against the saints. Significantly fewer yards total, and that's per carry.
Tom Brady's quarterback rating as a Buc is 101.3, against the Saints it was much worse.
The defense was absolutely good enough to win.
#2 | The Saints ran the ball pretty well
The Bucs were third in the NFL last year in rush defense.
The Saints ran for 102 yards, 5.1 yards a carry and that was without Alvin Kamara.
The ability to run the ball has been a Saints strength over the past five years, and we saw signs that it can be a strength again.
#1 | Jameis Winston just wasn't right, and it effected everything
Word broke pregame that Winston was playing through a back injury.
By quarterback rating, this was his second worst game as a Saint, and notice, in six of the nine games he's started, his numbers are terrific, over a 100.
I asked Dennis Allen after the game if he thought Winston's play was effected by the injury.
"There's a couple of throws he missed that typically, he wouldn't," Allen said.
Look, I understand why Winston wanted to play through the injury, and why Dennis Allen wanted his starting quarterback in there.
But even before the disastrous fourth quarter, I thought Winston's decision-making and his delivery was effected by the injury. He just didn't look like himself.
You can hate the Bucs all you want, but they're a good team.
And it's going to be really difficult to beat them with a quarterback who's not at 100% and Winston didn't look close to it.
The Saints spent a lot of money to get a solid backup. If Winston isn't 100%, or at least closer to it, I think the Saints need to rest him until he is.
Mike Thomas summed it all up best in the locker room.
"We can't wait to see them again," Thomas said.