Instant replay: Saints 37, Buccaneers 31 (OT) _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas (23) jumps in for a touchdown with blocks from New Orleans Saints guard Ben Grubbs (66) and New Orleans Saints center Jonathan Goodwin (55) in a game between the Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014.

What did we learn?

Hopefully this game was a wake-up call. Who are the 2014 New Orleans Saints? The defense is average. The offense can’t run the ball consistently. The special teams are OK, but definitely not great. Sean Payton has yet to get his team to play with a sense of urgency all of the time. But at least hope is still alive. This off week coming up is important.

Good comeback

Down 24-13, the Saints easily could have folded, but they didn’t. It’s a credit to the leadership on the team in guys like Drew Brees and Junior Galette. Brees helped the team stay focused and come through late in the game. Galette and the defense stepped up in the crucial moments. The team can build on this win.

No passion

Credit the Saints for just a yeoman’s effort for most of Sunday’s game. The team lacked the constant passion and verve it used to display in every home game on its home field last year. Tampa Bay started slowly, as usual, but the best the Saints could do was a 13-0 lead in the second quarter. It needed to have at least a 17-0 lead. This team isn’t good enough to bring it’s “B” game and “B” effort to win games this season.

Jairus Who?

The Saints for one Sunday overcame the season-ending injury to safety Jairus Byrd, who wasn’t playing that great when he was healthy anyway. The defense was solid, but not great. The secondary played well. Still, let’s be honest: Tampa Bay doesn’t have a great offense, and ultimately it wasn’t a good test for New Orleans.

Thomas steps up

Saints running back Pierre Thomas had eight caches for 77 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 35 yards on four carries. His all-purpose skills and professionalism in lieu of a somewhat declined role have been an asset to the team.

Something to think about?

The Saints rushing offense has lacked an explosiveness since running back Mark Ingram went out with a broken hand. Ingram was running with authority and speed when he was healthy. He would have brought those same things to Sunday’s game. He could be the key to solving the road woes if the team gets him the ball a lot. This team has to get him back on the field for its next game.

Up next

The Saints play at the Detroit Lions on Oct. 19.

-- Pierce W. Huff