TAMPA, Fla. -- Saints coach Jim Haslett figured he could count on John Carney to redeem himself.
Carney's 47-yard field goal with eight seconds left Sunday lifted New Orleans past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-14, atoning for his earlier fourth-quarter mistake.
"I know he missed one earlier, but if I had my life riding on a kick, I'd have John Carney out there," Haslett said.
The Saints (4-5) won for the third time in four games, rebounding from an overtime loss to Carolina to beat the Super Bowl champion Bucs (4-4) for the third straight time.
"You could give the game ball to anybody," Haslett said. "You could give it to the kicker. You could give it to the defense. The offense. ..."
Ashley Ambrose returned one of his two interceptions 73 yards for a touchdown that put the Saints ahead 14-0 going into the fourth quarter. The reserve cornerback also had a second-quarter pick to set up Aaron Brooks' 38-yard TD pass to Michael Lewis.
Tampa Bay, which hasn't won consecutive games, squandered an opportunity to pull within a game of NFC South leader Carolina heading into next week's showdown with the Panthers.
"The thing about it is, Carolina loses to Houston and we can't win at home to take advantage of it. Are you kidding me?" Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "This league is up for the taking right now if we can get ourselves together and do something about it."
The Bucs drove 97 yards to trim their deficit to 14-7 on Brad Johnson's 26-yard touchdown pass to Michael Pittman. They pulled even when Johnson threw 30 yards to Keenan McCardell on fourth-and-10 with 2:08 remaining.
But Tampa Bay lost the last of its four fumbles on the final play of the game: Keyshawn Johnson made his 10th catch, but the ball wound up in the hands of tackle Cornell Green after five desperation laterals.
"Good teams, great teams find a way to win these games," Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said. "We won some close games last year. Our season is not over yet. It's 4-4 at the halfway point. There's still eight games left. We have to keep working."
McAllister topped 100 yards for the sixth straight game, breaking the Saints record of five set by Ricky Williams in 2000. The running back also had big games when the Saints swept the Bucs last season, dealing Tampa half of its four losses.
Brooks, who completed 13 of 29 passes for 142 yards, began the game-winning drive at his own 28. He used completions of 18 yards to Lewis and 13 yards to Boo Williams to set up Carney, who said he miscalculated the wind on the 39-yard attempt that would have put the Saints up by 10 with about four minutes left.
"I played it more to the right," Carney said of the winner. "I was going to give it my best shot and keep my fingers crossed."
Brad Johnson was 27-of-46 for 333 yards and two interceptions. Keyshawn Johnson, who has complained about not being involved enough in the offense, accounted for 124 yards with his catches.
The Bucs wasted two scoring opportunities in the second quarter. Pittman fumbled after a catch-and-run to the New Orleans 20, and Martin Gramatica hooked a 36-yard field-goal attempt wide left on the half's last play.
The frustration continued in the third quarter when Willie Whitehead sacked Brad Johnson, forcing a fumble that Roger Knight recovered to end a drive in the red zone. Five minutes later, Ambrose picked off a pass intended for Will Heller and outran everyone for a 14-0 lead.
"You can't win games with turnovers, you can't win games with penalties, and you can't win games with mistakes," Keyshawn Johnson said.
"What are you going to do? We have to bounce back next week. That's all you can do -- put this one behind you, try to move forward and stay in the chase."
Deuce McAllister (26) is caught after breaking loose for a 39-yard run. (AP)
|TD||Michael Lewis, 38 Yd pass from Aaron Brooks (John Carney kick is good), 10:57. Drive: 1 play, 38 yards in 0:09.|
|TD||Ashley Ambrose, 73 Yd interception return (John Carney kick is good), 0:07.|
|TD||Michael Pittman, 26 Yd pass from Brad Johnson (Martin Gramatica kick is good), 7:59. Drive: 9 plays, 97 yards in 3:22.|
|TD||Keenan McCardell, 30 Yd pass from Brad Johnson (Martin Gramatica kick is good), 2:08. Drive: 7 plays, 71 yards in 1:45.|
|FG||John Carney 47 Yd, 0:08. Drive: 8 plays, 43 yards in 2:00.|
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