With just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Saints tight end Jared Cook had a costly blunder.
After making a catch for what would’ve been a solid gain over the midfield line, Cook had the ball punched out and recovered by Tampa Bay. This crucial fumble set up a Buccaneers touchdown to tie the game at 20 apiece.
Cook clearly took the mistake pretty hard. After the Bucs TD, the veteran tight end was seen with his head under a towel on the New Orleans sideline.
Jared Cook following his fumble that led to a Bucs TD 💔 pic.twitter.com/SjOtfaOa8Z
— ESPN (@espn) January 18, 2021
This was a rare mistake for the usually sure-handed receiver. Through the entire regular and postseason this year, Cook had only fumbled the ball one time. Now in the divisional round, his second couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Fumble aside, Cook has had a rough night in general — only notching four receptions for 22 yards through the first three quarters.
While Cook clearly feels much of the responsibility falls on him, his fumble wasn’t the only turnover of the game. Drew Brees threw a costly interception in the first half that also led to points for Tampa Bay.
In the battle of veteran quarterbacks, Tom Brady is certainly getting the best of Brees. Brady has thrown 16/31 for 172 yards and two touchdowns, compared to Brees’ 17/29 for 128 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Brees’ second interception set up Brady and the Bucs in the red zone with another golden points-off-turnover opportunity. Tampa Bay quickly capitalized, extending its lead to 30-20 with just under five minutes remaining in the fourth.
Maybe Brees and Jared Cook can redeem themselves as the Saints look to mount a late-game comeback.