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Takeaways will tell tale in Superdome

Posted Oct 31, 2011 by Ira Kaufman

Updated Oct 31, 2011 at 12:16 PM

BY IRA KAUFMAN

TAMPA—Most NFL coaches will tell you turnovers are the most telling statistic in determining a game’s outcome.

That has certainly been the case when the Buccaneers and Saints have met during the Raheem Morris era as Tampa Bay’s head coach.

The Bucs have won three of those five matchups heading into Sunday’s game at the Superdome, where Tampa Bay has posted back-to-back upsets. Turnovers have been pivotal against the Saints, who have boasted one of the league’s most productive attacks since Sean Payton’s arrival as head coach in 2006.

Morris, who also doubles at Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator, has tremendous respect for Saints quarterback Drew Brees. But as Morris points out, Brees also has the confidence and bravado to throw into tight coverages, providing defenses with opportunities.

In Tampa Bay’s 26-20 home victory against New Orleans this year, the Bucs posted four takeaways and did not turn the ball over. The Bucs registered three takeaways in New Orleans during last year’s regular-season finale, wlaking out of the Superdome with a 23-13 win.

In their three wins against the Saints under Morris, the Bucs are plus-4 in turnover ratio, accumulating eight takeaways. In their two losses against New Orleans since 2009, the Bucs are minus-4 in turnover differential, with only one takeaway.

A victory Sunday would assure the Bucs of at least a share of first place in the NFC South at the halfway mark of the season. Keep your eye on the turnover margin, which has been the traditional winning edge in this series.

Morris loves to say statistics are for losers. That’s not quite true. When it comes to the Bucs and Saints, giveaways are for losers.

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