Thumbs up, thumbs down: Saints 16, Bucs 14

Thumbs up

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham: Graham set a Saints record for most receiving yards by a tight end when he had eight catches for 156 yards and one touchdown in the first half. Graham is back in his Pro Bowl form of two years ago. He is about to be a very rich man.

Saints defense: This bend-but-don’t-break philosophy is paying dividends. For the second week in a row, the team came up with big plays. It also helped that Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman is inconsistent. The Saints defense was clutch. Maybe last week’s success against the Atlanta Falcons wasn’t a mirage.

Malcolm Jenkins: The safety came up with a big interception in the second half. No longer do we see Jenkins trailing plays like last year. He is in the right scheme, and he has improved.

Thumbs down

Saints coach Sean Payton : Poor decision to take away an 18-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley with less than 20 seconds left in the first half and go for a Mark Ingram run on a fourth-and-goal play. Not only was Ingram held to no gain with 14 seconds left, but Tampa Bay only had 10 men on the field. Never take points off the scoreboard.

The MARK INGRAM MYTH: The team continues to perpetuate this belief that Mark Ingram is its best running back over Pierre Thomas, and the idea ranks right up there with a parent trying to convince an adult that the Easter Bunny exists. It’s the football equivalent of someone thinking that Shelley Long made the right decision when she left “Cheers.”

S aints run defense : Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin rushed for more than 100 yards, which wasn’t good. Martin had gashing runs against the team, reminiscent of last year. Martin is good, but he’s not that good. Run defense has to improve.

Pierce W. Huff