Oakland Raiders 35, New Orleans Saints 34
In a game that felt like the last team to possess the ball would win, the last team that possessed the ball – with any significant time on the clock – won. The Raiders had trailed New Orleans by 11 in the fourth quarter, but Derek Carr led the team on an 11 play, 75 yard drive to bring the team within a point of tying the Saints. Head coach Jack Del Rio opted to send his team out for two, and the Raiders successfully converted the play.
Carr finished with 319 yards and a touchdown, good enough to bring home a victory against miniature human/statistic hoarder Drew Brees (28-42, 423 yards and 4 touchdowns). Second year receiver Willie Snead was Brees’s top beneficiary with 9 receptions for 172 yards and a touchdown. The Saints remain fertile ground for fantasy football, but cannot be excited to have this kind of defensive lapse at home.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31, Atlanta Falcons 24
The other NFC South game this weekend was not quite as exciting as the Saints’ loss, but proved a one-score victory for the visiting Buccaneers. As with the other affair, both quarterbacks played well, but Jameis Winston (23-33, 281 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception) out-dueled Matt Ryan (27-39, 334 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions). Neither team was productive on the ground and no single receiver gained over 100 yards on the day. Nevertheless, Mike Evans had a strong outing with five receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown, and both Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones found the end zone for Atlanta.
The difference between these teams can be summed up in one statistic: field goals. While the Falcons kicked three, the Bucs kicked only one. Therefore, although the Falcons slightly out-gained the Bucs in total yards and had the ball for over 32 minutes, and also enjoyed the game’s only turnover, they lost. Neither defense proved stout, but the Buccaneers did enough to win. They take a commanding one-game lead in the NFC South.