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New Orleans at Tampa Bay

Bucs overcome Brees, Saints -- move into 1st place tie

CBSSports.com wire reports

TAMPA, Fla. -- A week after his team lost by 45 points, Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman showed he's still very much a player to watch.

Freeman threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns and Earnest Graham ran for 109 yards in place of injured starter LeGarrette Blount to help the Buccaneers outlast New Orleans 26-20 on Sunday.

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The win pulled the Bucs (4-2) into a first-place tie with the Saints in the NFC South and snapped New Orleans' four-game winning streak.

It also gives a team that is hitting one of the toughest parts of its schedule a lot of momentum.

"Really, that's just always our mentality," Freeman said. "You know, we don't buy into all the hype. We took a step back [last week] and we just prepare to do everything exactly the same."

A bad tone was set for the Saints on their first drive when coach Sean Payton toppled to the ground during a collision with New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham in the first quarter. Payton got his left leg caught under Graham as he was tackled on the sideline, suffering a torn ligament and a broken bone.

He spent the second half in the training room watching the game via television and gave the play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael. Payton will have surgery on the knee Monday and will begin rehabilitation immediately afterward.

The Saints still had a chance to take the lead late, but quarterback Drew Brees was intercepted in the end zone on a fourth-down pass. Brees became the first passer with four consecutive 350-yard games, but also threw three interceptions.

New Orleans had four turnovers. The Bucs defense also held the Saints under 30 points for the second time this season and shut down New Orleans' rushing attack, which was held to 70 yards.

CBSSports.com Grades
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints
The Saints committed too many turnovers to overcome. The Saints also failed to score TDs on three trips inside the red zone, twice getting field goals and once throwing an INT. On the defensive side, New Orleans blew several coverages, the most damaging a 65-yard TD pass to Bucs WR Arrelious Benn in the second quarter.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A week after looking inept in a 48-3 loss at San Francisco -- while playing Sunday without inactive DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) and RB LeGarrette Blount (knee) -- Tampa did just about everything right, picking off three passes, collecting a Saints' fumble and hitting on long passes. Much credit also has to be given to Earnest Graham, who had 17 carries for 109 yards.
By Scott Purks
RapidReports Correspondent

"I thought they played great today," Brees said of the Bucs' defense. "They took the ball away four times, which if you do that you're going to win a lot of games. We gave it away four times. The fact of the matter is that will get you beat."

Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said he never worried about his team being able to recover from last week's 48-3 to the 49ers.

"It's not a redemption thing," Morris said. "I had a lot of confidence in this team bouncing back, and I know you guys wrote us off for dead last week...I know this is a tough team."

Tampa Bay safety Tenard Jackson, playing in his first game since being reinstated by NFL after being suspended more than a year for violating league's substance abuse policy, had an interception in the first half to set up a Bucs touchdown.

"It feels great," Jackson said. "It's just a great opportunity for me to get back with my teammates and help us get a win. That was the most important thing for me. I wanted to play well. The most important thing for me today was to get a win and we did that."

The Bucs led 23-13 heading into the fourth period until Mark Ingram's 12-yard run capped a seven-play, 82-yard drive and pulled the Saints within a field goal.

Tampa Bay pushed it back to 26-20 with a field goal of its own with 7:54 left, opening the door for Saints. But with a fourth-and-2 on the 4, Brees' pass was intercepted by safety Quincy Black. The Bucs then put the ball in Graham's hands and were able to run out the clock.

The Saints first drive of the game also ended with an Ingram fumble that was scooped up by Tampa's Da'Quan Bowers and led to a field goal three plays later.

Brees' touchdown pass to Marques Colston on their next possession put the Saints up 7-3 before the Bucs reeled off 17 points.

"We felt that wasn't us last week for whatever reason," Graham said. "We left that on the field. We left it there. We left it in San Francisco. We came out, and we knew we had a chance today to play for first place. We had the Saints coming in. We didn't have time to sulk about it."


  • Graham had his best rushing game since Sept. 28, 2008, when he had 111 yards against Green Bay
  • The Bucs have a 24-4 record since 2002 when they don't commit a turnover
  • Brees has completed at least 20 passes in an NFL-record 26 consecutive games.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Josh Freeman throws for 303 yards and two touchdowns with no picks to help his team move into a first place tie. (Getty Images)
Josh Freeman throws for 303 yards and two touchdowns with no picks to help his team move into a first place tie. (Getty Images)


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Sun. Oct. 16Final
Pass: D. Brees (29-45, 383) J. Freeman (23-41, 303)
Rush: M. Ingram (9-22) E. Graham (17-109)
Rec: J. Graham (7-124) A. Benn (3-83)
Scoring Summary
FGConnor Barth, 48 Yd, 8:19. Drive: 4 plays, 3 yards in 0:55.
TDMarques Colston, 38 Yd pass from Drew Brees (John Kasay kick is good), 5:38. Drive: 6 plays, 79 yards in 2:41.
TDArrelious Benn, 65 Yd pass from Josh Freeman (Connor Barth kick is good), 13:17. Drive: 3 plays, 80 yards in 1:31.
FGConnor Barth, 42 Yd, 5:26. Drive: 9 plays, 66 yards in 6:12.
TDPreston Parker, 19 Yd pass from Josh Freeman (Connor Barth kick is good), 3:40. Drive: 3 plays, 25 yards in 0:53.
FGJohn Kasay, 33 Yd, 0:02. Drive: 6 plays, 82 yards in 0:53.
FGJohn Kasay, 24 Yd, 3:18. Drive: 11 plays, 49 yards in 6:35.
FGConnor Barth, 42 Yd, 0:35. Drive: 6 plays, 57 yards in 2:43.
TDMark Ingram, 12 Yd run (John Kasay kick is good), 12:59. Drive: 7 plays, 82 yards in 2:36.
FGConnor Barth, 38 Yd, 7:24. Drive: 8 plays, 40 yards in 2:36.
Players of the Game

J. Freeman
Att 41
Comp 23
Yds 303
TD 2

M. Colston
Rec 7
Yds 118
Avg 16.9
TD 1
New Orleans
D. Brees29/4538313
M. Ingram922112
D. Brees321011
D. Sproles116016
P. Thomas71106
J. Graham7124043
M. Colston7118138
D. Sproles84609
L. Moore246040
R. Meachem123023
D. Henderson112012
M. Ingram1606
P. Thomas1505
J. Collins1303
Tampa Bay
J. Freeman23/4130320
E. Graham17109034
K. Lumpkin21309
J. Freeman4303
P. Parker1-30-3
A. Benn1-50-5
A. Benn383165
M. Williams659019
D. Briscoe249032
K. Winslow540015
P. Parker232119
E. Graham222019
Z. Pianalto1909
E. Lorig2906
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
CAR 17 Final
ATL 31
IND 17 Final
CIN 27
SF 25 Final
DET 19
STL 3 Final
GB 24
BUF 24 Final
NYG 27
JAC 13 Final
PIT 17
PHI 20 Final
WAS 13
HOU 14 Final
BAL 29
CLE 17 Final
OAK 24
DAL 16 Final
NE 20
MIN 10 Final
CHI 39
MIA 6 Final
NYJ 24