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(Sunday, October 16th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 26, New Orleans 20
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Connor Barth kicked four field goals and Quincy Black had a late interception to lift the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the New Orleans Saints, 26-20.
Josh Freeman completed 23-of-41 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns for the Bucs (4-2), who bounced back from last week's 48-3 loss to the 49ers.
"I had a lot of confidence in this team bouncing back. We're a tough team, we're young," Bucs head coach Raheem Morris said.
With running back LeGarrette Blount inactive, Earnest Graham carried the ball 17 times for 109 yards.
Arrelious Benn and Preston Parker both had a touchdown catch for the victors.
Drew Brees connected on 29-of-45 passes for 383 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for the Saints (4-2), who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
New Orleans head coach Sean Payton suffered a torn MCL and a broken tibia following a collision along the sideline early in the first quarter and the Saints played most of the game with offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael calling the plays.
Payton was supposed to coach the second half from the booth, but was unable to because of the severity of the injury. He will have surgery Monday morning.
"[Carmichael] did a great job getting the play calls in. It was all the stuff that we would have called in those situation," Brees said. "We tried to mix it up and do the best job we could."
Jimmy Graham became the second tight end in NFL history to have four straight games with 100-plus yards receiving. He had seven catches for 124 yards. Former Kansas City Chief and current Atlanta Falcon Tony Gonzalez accomplished the feat in four consecutive games in 2000.
Marques Colston caught seven passes for 118 yards and a touchdown in defeat.
Down by six, 26-20, the Saints took over at their own 24 with 7:19 to play. Robert Meachem caught a big 23-yard pass to keep the drive alive on third down. A defensive pass interference penalty a few plays later put the ball at the Tampa Bay 31 and Jimmy Graham then came down with a 19-yard catch.
Faced with a 4th-and-2 from the four-yard line, Brees faked a handoff and rolled to his right, but the normally clutch quarterback was picked off by Black in the end zone.
Tampa Bay took over and Dezmon Briscoe came up with a big catch before the two-minute warning, going to the ground but managing to keep the ball from hitting the grass on a 17-yard play. The catch was upheld following a review and Earnest Graham put the game away with rushes of 12 and seven yards.
Pierre Thomas fumbled on New Orleans' first possession of the game, giving Tampa Bay the ball at the 33. The Bucs only got a 48-yard Barth field goal off the turnover.
The Saints responded with a touchdown to take the lead. Brees connected with Jimmy Graham on 16-yard passing play on 3rd-and-4. On the next play, Colston caught a 38-yard TD pass to make it 7-3 with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
Tampa Bay grabbed the lead right back early in the second stanza when Benn caught a 65-yard TD pass to give the Bucs a 10-7 edge.
Following a Saints punt, Tampa Bay covered 66 yards in nine plays. The drive ended in a 42-yard Barth field goal for a 13-7 margin with 5:26 to go.
On the third play of New Orleans' ensuing possession, Brees threw a pass along the right sideline to Colston, who bobbled the ball, and Tanard Jackson grabbed it out of the air for an interception.
Just three plays into Tampa Bay's drive, Freeman and Parker hooked up for a 19-yard score and 20-7 lead.
E.J. Biggers made it two picks in a row for the Bucs, stepping in front of a pass intended for Colston. But Tampa Bay failed to take advantage and had to punt.
Colston's 37-yard catch put the ball at the 16 with six seconds left. John Kasay made a 33-yard field goal to cut the gap to 20-10 at the half.
Barth missed a 55-yard field goal early in the third to keep it a 10-point game.
New Orleans capitalized with an 11-play, 49-yard drive, which Kasay capped with a 24-yarder. But Barth responded with a 42-yarder to make it 23-13 with 35 seconds left in the third.
The Saints faced a 3rd-and-4 from their own 37 early in the fourth and a defensive pass interference penalty gave them a fresh set of downs. Lance Moore made a 40-yard catch on another third down to keep the drive alive. Mark Ingram finished the seven-play march with a 12-yard TD run to cut the gap to 23-20.
The Bucs got a 38-yard Barth field goal with 7:24 remaining for a 26-20 edge.
New Orleans has a 22-17 advantage in its all-time series with Tampa Bay. The visitor had prevailed in each of the last four meetings...Tampa Bay was also without defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Zac Diles...The Saints were held to 70 rushing yards.
10/16 21:52:54 ET
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