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Bucs take advantage of mistake-prone Saints for 26-20 win

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New Orleans 7 3 3 7 20
Tampa Bay 3 17 3 3 26
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26

 

A week before a defanged Sunday night matcup against a Manning-less Colts, the New Orleans Saints needed to keep pace in the NFC South by taking care of a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers team on the road.

A week before a defanged Sunday night matcup against a Manning-less Colts, the New Orleans Saints needed to keep pace in the NFC South by taking care of a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers team on the road.

But defensive lapses and turnovers doomed the Saints on Sunday, leading to a 26-20 Tampa Bay victory in Raymond James Stadium.

Bucs QB Josh Freeman completed 23 passes on 41 attempts for 303 yards and two touchdowns. Earnest Graham, subbing in for an injured LeGarrette Blount, collected 109 tough yards on 17 carries.

Quarterback Drew Brees had a nightmarish day, throwing three interceptions, two of which led to Buccanneers’ scores and one that effectively ended the game. He did rack up another huge yardage total, completing 29 passes on 45 attempts for 383 yards.

Tight end Jimmy Graham continued to lead all Saints receivers, gaining 124 yards on seven receptions. Marques Colston had 118 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. Graham is on pace to break the single-season receiving yards record for a tight end, currently held by Kellen Winslow Sr.

The game started inauspiciously for the Saints. On the Saints opening drive, Graham was tackled into head coach Sean Payton, injuring his knee. Two plays later, Pierre Thomas fumbled, giving the Bucs prime field position. Connor Barth kicked a 48-yard field goal for the first points of the game.

Brees and the Saints moved down the field quickly, erasing just over two minutes from the clock. Brees hit Marques Colston for a 38-yard touchdown.

The Bucs and Saints traded possessions, after which the Bucs went 80 yards on three plays, the biggest of which came when Freeman hit Aurrelious Benn downfield for a 65 yard touchdown.

Following another Saints punt, the Bucs went another 66 yards and added a 42-yard Connor Barth field goal.

Brees then threw his first interception of the day, which yielded another Freeman touchdown pass, this time to Preston Parker from 19 yards out.

The Saints cut the lead to 10 just before the half with a 33-yard field goal by John Kasay.

They then opened second half scoring with another Kasay 24-yarder, and the Buccaneers responded with a Barth 42-yarder.

Mark Ingram brought the Saints within three points with a 12-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Barth added yet another 38-yard field goal to bring it back to six.

Brees masterfully led the Saints downfield for the potential game-winning score, but was intercepted on fourth down from the Tampa Bay four yard line. Tampa then ran out the clock with a few first downs.

 

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