TAMPA, Fla. (WAFB) - The Saints rebounded well from their loss against the Falcons and used a total team effort to beat the Bucs on Sunday.
New Orleans (8-2) came away with the 34-17 win over Tampa Bay (3-7).
Drew Brees was 28-of-35 for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Michael Thomas had eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Thomas became the first wide receiver in NFL history to catch 90 passes in the first 10 games of a season. Running back Alvin Kamara had 13 carries for 75 yards. He also caught 10 passes for 47 yards. The Saints defense had four interceptions and two sacks. The Saints also had 12 quarterback hits.
The Saints had a pretty good opening drive. They marched 60 yards down the field in 10 plays and ate up more than 6:00 of clock but it did not result in a touchdown. The drive stalled deep into Tampa Bay territory and New Orleans had to settle for a 44-yard field goal by Wil Lutz to take the 3-0 lead. The Saints defense then came on and did its job, forcing the Bucs to go three-and-out.
Again, the Saints marched down the field to the red zone and Kamara dove in the end zone for what the Who Dat Nation thought was a touchdown but it was nullified by a holding penalty that pushed New Orleans back. The Saints were unable to recover from the setback and again had to rely on a field goal from Lutz to put points on the board. The kicker was true from 26 yards to make it 6-0 with under 1:00 left in the first quarter.
The Saints defense stepped up again and had a huge play. On a Jameis Winston pass intended for tight end O.J. Howard, the pass catcher bobbled the ball and linebacker Demario Davis intercepted it. Brees wasted no time going for the jugular, finding Thomas for a 16-yard touchdown that took all of :03 to make it 13-0 at the end of the first quarter. Later, on another long drive, the Saints reached pay dirt again. A 13-play, 51-yard drive was capped off with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brees to tight end Jared Cook. The big man showed athleticism to go up and high-point the ball over the defender. New Orleans used over 6:30 of clock to take the 20-0 lead with 5:13 left in the half.
However, the Bucs regrouped and put together a scoring drive of their own. Winston hooked up with running back Payton Barber for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 20-7. After the Saints offense went three-and-out, the Saints defense had seemingly forced another three-and-out of its own after sacking Winston but the Tampa Bay drive was kept alive by a penalty in the secondary. The defense was magnificent again, picking off Winston for the second time in the game to close out the half.
Tampa Bay received the ball first in the second half and was able to put together a drive that resulted in a 55-yard field goal to make it 20-10. New Orleans responded with a drive in which Brees and company sliced up the Bucs defense. The Saints went 75 yards in 10 plays and finished with a 6-yard pass from Brees to wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. to make it 27-10 with 5:27 left in the third quarter. Brees was 5-of-5 on the drive for 59 yards, including a short toss to Thomas that went for 41 yards. However, the Bucs went right back down the field and scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Winston to wide receiver Chris Godwin to make it 27-17. The Bucs desperately tried to mount a comeback but on a fourth-and-10, Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans weren't on the same page, resulting in an interception by safety Marcus Williams that was returned 55 yards for a touchdown to make it 34-17 with 5:07 left to play. Winston drove the Bucs down to the Saints 1-yard line on their next possession but then threw another pick. This one was intercepted by P.J. Williams in the end zone.
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