What did work
It was a simple slant route that Galloway — and one key block — turned into a game-breaking play. It was certainly reminiscent of the types of plays both Jerry Rice and John Taylor used to break in the heyday of the 49ers, and those plays were the genesis of that Galloway touchdown catch.
On 3rd-and-11 the Bucs are at their own 31. Two runs by Carnell Williams have netted nothing. In the shotgun, Garcia has Williams at his left and Michael Pittman at his right. Michael Clayton is wide right, Ike Hilliard is in motion to the right and Galloway is split far left. The Saints have a cornerback right up on Galloway.
The Saints are showing blitz, and at the snap they bring six players, but the Bucs offensive line fends the rush off long enough to allow both backs to release into the flat.
This is unfortunate for the Saints. The gamble leaves five players in coverage. Two of them are playing tightly on Clayton and Hilliard. Two more are playing deep, which leaves Jason David in single coverage on Galloway. Further compounding the problem is a linebacker that stays in the flat Galloway vacates because he must respect Williams as a safety valve. There are seven players near the line of scrimmage when Garcia throws this pass.
At the last second before the snap, David backpedals to softer coverage, which plays into Galloway's hands. He's now able to make a precise cut inside about seven yards from the line of scrimmage. He is Garcia's first option. He makes no other reads.
The throw is perfect. It hits Galloway in a dead run at the 41. At the moment of his catch, David is on his left hip, but is already falling behind. There is a safety across the field at the 41, but he's out of position to make a play, as Galloway is too fast and the safety had to play too far to the left side of the field to cover Hilliard. There is just one defender with a chance to stop him, and that's Kevin Kaesviharn, who is playing the deep middle at midfield.
Kaesviharn has a good look at Galloway. But Clayton — and there's no way Kaesviharn saw him coming — put the safety down with a vicious block.
Galloway's path is now clear. The corner on his hip and the other safety quickly fall behind the speedy receiver as he takes his first touchdown of the season all the way. It's a perfect example of exploiting a mismatch.
In the third quarter, Bucs linebacker Cato June all but ended the Saints' hopes of a comeback by intercepting Drew Brees. Much has been made in the days since the win of the 10-12 plays that June spelled Derrick Brooks at weak side linebacker. Here's why the Bucs are trying to keep June on the field as much as possible
The Saints have a 1st-and-10 at their own 39. The Saints are in a two-tight end set, with just one set back. The Saints have two wide receivers, both on the left of Drew Brees. June is up on the slot receiver. Brees will be well protected and have plenty of time to make the throw.
The slot receiver makes an immediate move inside. June releases him into the middle of the field and the settles into the flat. At this point he's reading Brees' eyes. There's only two receivers to worry about, and at this point safety Jermaine Phillips has the slot receiver. June keeps backpedaling and sees the pass coming. The receiver on the outside, David Patten, runs a hook and is now moving inside.
June played this about as well as possible. Brees likely never saw June settling into the soft spot of the zone, waiting for the pass. All June had to do was leap up and grab the ball. It's as if the pass was intended for him and not Patten.
What didn't work
There wasn't much to criticize in this game on either end, but I picked two defensive plays in which the Saints were able to get downfield and make a play.
Brees hooked up with Patten for a 58-yard pass late in the third quarter. The Saints were facing 3rd-and-10 from their own 31. The Saints are in a shotgun set, with four wide receivers and Reggie Bush to Brees' left. The Bucs are in a nickel formation with just four down rushers and no blitzers. Patten is out wide to the left.
Brees has plenty of time to find a receiver, but most are well-covered as the pocket moves to his left. The pocket is closing down when he finds a streaking Patten across the middle about 18 yards downfield. Patten is actually surrounded by four defenders, but he's able to cut back into a crease between the Bucs' Phillip Buchanon and Ronde Barber and get upfield for the gain. Buchanon finally tackles him.
Nickel back Sammy Davis was about four yards off Patten. The receiver runs an in route. Davis released coverage, as he's supposed to in the Cover 2 and Patten simply finds the perfect crease between the first and second levels of coverage in the middle of the field, the most vulnerable part of any Cover 2. Then, like Galloway did earlier in the game, Patten used his speed to escape a couple of onrushing tacklers. Brooks almost got a hand on the ball, and Phillips had a mistackle on the play.
The Saints scored their second touchdown with 2:56 left, a 4-yard scoring toss to Marques Colston. This is a simple quick out. Colston is in the slot, with Bush in the backfield and receivers split wide. The receiver on the left, outside of Colston, will be a key part of this play.
Brees throws immediately to Colston. When Colston catches the ball at the 5, three Bucs are in pursuit — Barber from the inside, Phillips, who was in the slot and playing a bit soft and the corner (Davis) on the outside receiver (Patten), who is now being blocked.
At this point it's a foot race, and Phillips is going to lose. He not only has to catch Colston, but he also has to find a way past the battle between the outside receiver and the cornerback. Phillips can't get around the pair in time to make the play and Colston scores.
These types of plays — the quick outs — require precise timing and good blocking by other receivers. This play is a prime example of what happens when it works.
In times like these, there is little the defense can do, even though Phillips made a good effort.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.