New Orleans Breakers Suffocates Tampa Bay Bandits To Officially Clinch Postseason Berth

New Orleans Suffocates Tampa Bay To Officially Clinch Postseason Berth

Sunday in the USFL kicked off with a massive game on FOX. The Tampa Bay Bandits took on the New Orleans Breakers – in a matchup that would determine the playoff race in the south. New Orleans sat at 5-3, while Tampa Bay was right behind them at 4-4.

When these two teams played back in week two, the Breakers absolutely pummeled the Bandits. Kyle Sloter and the offense dominated from start to finish, winning 34-3.

Today’s game told a very similar story, as New Orleans dominated the majority of the afternoon. Let’s take a look at what happened between these two teams.

First Quarter

Tampa Bay got the football first, but looked quite sloppy. Their offensive line racked up four penalties on the first drive alone, making it impossible to push the ball downfield. The Bandits had to punt quickly, which is not how Todd Haley wanted to start this game.

Tampa’s defense came to play early, however. A pass from Kyle Sloter missed his intended receiver, and was picked off by Anthony Butler.

New Orleans defensive line absolutely dominated Tampa Bay from the get go, sacking Jordan Ta’amu multiple times. Despite the great field position, the Bandits had to punt again.

The Breakers offense has been very inconsistent as of late, which was the case to start today’s game. Even though they are capable of playing at a high level, the first couple of drives were a disaster, and they had to punt the ball right back to Tampa.

After a first quarter dominated by both defenses, we went into the next period with a 0-0 ball game.

Second Quarter

The mistakes continued to pile up for Tampa Bay. After a solid march into New Orleans redzone, Juwan Washington fumbled the football, and it was recovered by the Breakers.

Zach Smith came into the game for Kyle Sloter, and while the offense didn’t do much – a roughing the punter call kept the drive alive. Smith eventually found Sal Canella on a crossing route, who muscled his way into the endzone, giving New Orleans a 6-0 lead.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for Tampa’s offense, it did. Ta’amu delivered a strike to Rashard Davis, who proceeded to lose the football as Jerod Fernandez jarred it loose. Alexander picked it up for New Orleans, and they recovered.

Zach Smith ended up getting injured on their next possession, which put a damper on the drive. However, Taylor Bertolet successfully knocked through a 26 yard field goal, and New Orleans took a 9-0 lead.

If you thought the Bandits were going to do something right in this half – you’d be wrong. The team did start to put together a drive – but a pass from Ta’amu sailed high, and Derrick Jones came away with the interception.

After being set up inside the five yard line, Jordan Ellis rumbled into the end zone right away. A successful two point conversion gave New Orleans a 17-0 lead, unleashing a torrential downpour in the second quarter.

Tampa Bay put together a good drive, getting into Breakers territory. But, back to back 15 yard penalties put them in a 3rd and 34 position, forcing the team into a punt again.

After a first half filled with offensive mistakes on every possession, Tampa Bay went into halftime trailing 17-0.

Third Quarter

To open up the second half, Tampa Bay’s defense made a huge play. Greg Reaves forced a fumble on Anthony Jones, and the Bandits came away with the football.

However, the penalties continued to ruin Tampa Bay’s momentum. Multiple miscues took away first downs from the Bandits, and they were forced to punt it away again. Their defense held up once again, giving Tampa Bay another opportunity with the football.

Tampa Bay put together a decent drive, as Ta’amu pushed the ball down the field effectively. Rashard Davis picked up a big gain, putting the Bandits in a position to score.

However, the Bandits still trailed 17-0 heading into the fourth quarter, with only fifteen minutes left to right the ship.

Fourth Quarter

To start the fourth quarter, Ty Rausa attempted a 49 yard field goal. It hooked left, and Tampa Bay still could not find a way to score. However, they quickly forced a punt, getting the ball right back.

This time, the offense finally did something right. Jordan Ta’amu dropped a dime to Rashard Davis, who ran it into the endzone. A miscue on the two point attempt left points off the board, but it was a 17-6 game nonetheless.

New Orleans struggled as an offensive unit in the second half. Kyle Sloter and Zach Smith were both banged up, which made it difficult for their group to find a rhythm. Another New Orleans punt gave Tampa Bay a chance to make it a one score game, with several minutes left.

While the Bandits marched into Breakers territory, they could not find a way to put points on the board. An excellent open field tackle left Davis just inches short of the first down, and Tampa Bay turned it over on downs.

As was the case for the entire second half, Tampa Bay’s defense generated another stop. Unfortunately, after another solid march, a turnover stopped the drive. Ta’amu was drilled as he threw the ball, and Adonis Alexander came away with the game sealing interception.

With only a couple of minutes left, New Orleans was able to close out the game. Tampa Bay did get one more shot with the football, but could not do anything with it.

The Breakers officially clinched a playoff berth, with a 17-6 win over the Tampa Bay Bandits.

Final Thoughts

To be honest, this game was extremely messy from start to finish. Tampa Bay was in shambles from the get go, shooting themselves in the foot at the worst possible time. Despite Jordan Ta’amu’s best efforts, this team could not find a way to make big plays when they needed to.

On the other hand, New Orleans struggled to find much of a rhythm, but their defense fueled them to a dominant win – clinching a playoff berth.

With today’s results, Tampa Bay is officially eliminated, dropping to 4-5 on the year. Meanwhile, New Orleans will officially face off against Birmingham in the playoffs, improving to 6-3.

What did you think of New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay? Which players do you think performed the best? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!