What it means: The Saints were playing for nothing but pride and the way they went out and dominated says a lot about their character. They improved to 6-8 and they have a chance to finish the season with some positive momentum. The momentum is going in the other direction for the Bucs, who fell to 6-8. It wasn’t that long ago that the Bucs were 6-4 and very much in the playoff race. But they’ve lost four straight and if they keep going like they are, all the progress they seemed to be making early in the season will be wiped out.
Rethinking the future? For most of the season, I’ve been saying the Bucs would be wise to sign quarterback Josh Freeman to a contract extension as soon as possible. Now, I’m starting to think they might be smarter to wait. Freeman threw four interceptions against the Saints and completed less than 50 percent of his passes in the two previous games. I still think Freeman, who is under contract through the end of the 2013 season, can be a franchise quarterback, but the Bucs might want to wait until he shows he can play well consistently.
Next man up: The Saints put safety Malcolm Jenkins on injured reserve Saturday. Isa Abdul-Quddus used the increased playing time to make a positive impression. He picked off a Freeman pass and made five tackles.
Bouncing back: I thought Jabari Greer was the best cornerback in the NFC South the past couple of seasons. But, for a variety of reasons, he didn’t seem to be the same player in the first 13 games. Against the Bucs, Greer stepped up and intercepted two Freeman passes.
What pass rush? The Saints were without injured starting right tackle Zach Strief. They put his backup, Charles Brown, on injured reserve Saturday and had to start former practice-squad player William Robinson. So you would expect that the Bucs should have been able to put some pressure on Drew Brees, right? Wrong. The Bucs recorded one sack and Brees threw for four touchdowns.
What’s next: The Saints play at Dallas next Sunday. If coach Sean Payton doesn’t sign a contract extension with the Saints soon, we’re going to hear a week’s worth of speculation about him possibly landing with the Cowboys. The Bucs host the St. Louis Rams next Sunday.