The last time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored 48 points in a game was Jan. 26, 2003.

The Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII that day 15 and a half years ago, thumping the Oakland Raiders 48-21.

The 48 points the Bucs dropped on the Saints Sunday didn't win a Super Bowl, but it sure did kill much of the buzz of New Orleans winning one. 

It's just one game — the fifth consecutive season-opening loss for the Saints, by the way — but it was three-plus hours of frustration for a team (and its fan base) that entered the season with lofty expectations of playing in Atlanta the first Sunday in February.

The first five words of Sean Payton's press conference summed up this 48-40 loss up perfectly.

"We did not do well."

Nope.

They didn't.

It was too much Fitz Magic, the nickname for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

This one was supposed to be a gimme.

At least most of the Who Dat nation thought so, especially back in June when the NFL announced that Bucs starter Jameis Winston for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

In stepped Fitzpatrick, who torched the Saints for a career-high day and perhaps created a quarterback controversy when Winston returns.

"I hope somebody had him in fantasy (football), because he went crazy today," said Bucs receiver Mike Evans. "He was running too. It was one of the most complete games I've seen from him."

Fitz Magic was real on this day.

He completed 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. He finished with a 156.2 quarterback rating, or just 2.1 points shy of a perfect score.

"Not surprised," said Bucs safety Justin Evans. "Fitz Magic was out there. We don't have our starting quarterback out there, and some would think it wouldn't be the same. But it's the NFL. You have to step up and make a play when the starter is out."

Fitz was indeed magic on this day. The Saints made the 35-year-old Harvard graduate, who was once the Ivy League MVP, look like an NFL MVP.

The journeyman Fitzpatrick, playing on his seventh NFL team, had his way against a defense that relapsed after taking giant strides a season ago. The Saints gave up 529 yards.

"It's fun to be out there thinking you are going to score on every possession," Fitzpatrick said. "It had nothing to do with who we were going against but the confidence we had going into the game."

Even when the Saints tried to zap that confidence by scoring on their opening drive, the Bucs answered just two minutes later with a score of their own. The Bucs offense went on to score on five of their first six possessions, including the first drive of the second half. The only time they didn't score in the first half was when time expired at halftime. The defense added a touchdown as well.

Fitzpatrick woke up at 4:30 a.m. Sunday and lay in bed staring at the ceiling in anticipation of his start. But not even then did he dream of a 48-point outburst.

"You never know how many you're going to have to put up or what you're going to put up, but we knew we were capable of it," he said.

It was a splashing debut for Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Todd Monken, the former Louisiana Tech and LSU assistant who made his play-calling debut on Sunday, his third season with the Bucs.

"You don't usually see that often in an NFL game," Mike Evans said about the 48 points. "But I wanted to hang 50. We should've had that. We'll work on that. We missed a couple plays out there ... We were close to perfect."

Indeed they were.

The Saints, looking to avoid their fifth straight 0-2 start when they host the Browns next week, were far from perfect.

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, host the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles next week.

It'll be their second straight game against a team that most had in the Super Bowl conversation.

It's just one game, but Fitz Magic and the Bucs showed the Saints they have a ways to go to belong in that conversation.


Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.