Credit interim coach Joe Vitt with an accurate diagnosis after a 52-27 loss to New York last Sunday that all but ended New Orleans’ playoff chances. He said the Saints were pressing, trying to win each game on every play, and if they relaxed, everything would get better.

Freed from the pressure to win, New Orleans (6-8) played its most complete game of the season on Sunday at the Superdome, crushing the Bucs 41-0. New Orleans posted its first shutout since the 1995 season finale at the Jets, and its first shutout at home since Dec. 16, 1991 vs. the Raiders.

Tampa Bay (6-8) was the team with realistic playoff hopes entering the game, but the Bucs were lifeless from the start, clearly unable to recover from blowing a 12-point lead at home to hapless Philadelphia in the final four minutes last Sunday and giving up the winning TD with no time left.

When the game turned: The Saints led 10-0 when Bucs QB Josh Freeman overthrew a wide open Mike Williams in the end zone from the New Orleans 26 in the second quarter. On the next play, Freeman hit Saints safety Rafael Bush in the numbers with an awful pass. Bush returned the ball to the Saints 49, and Drew Brees directed a 51-yard drive that gave New Orleans a 17-0 lead. Ballgame.

Highlight moments: Saints CB Jabari Greer jumped a route by TE Dallas Clark to steal an interception with the Bucs at the New Orleans 20 in the first quarter. … Brees threw a 34-yard TD pass to big-play specialist Joe Morgan on a streak route down the sideline to give the Saints a 31-0 lead. … Darren Sproles returned a punt 37 yards to the Tampa Bay 38 to set up the Saints' final TD right before halftime.

Top-shelf performances:

  • Brees --  26 of 39 for 307 yards with four TDs and zero interceptions.

  • Saints RB Mark Ingram -- 14 carries for 90 yards, one off his career high.

  • CB Jabari Greer -- two interceptions, first multi-pick game in his career.

What they said:

  • Bucs coach Greg Schiano on his team's first loss by more than eight points this year: “I didn’t get this team ready to go today for whatever the reason is. It got out hand.”

  • Saints interim coach Joe Vitt on the dominant win despite having little to play for: “We’ve got a team that’s full of a lot of guys with pride and a lot of guys with want-to. They’re accountable to one another.”

  • Freeman on throwing four interceptions in a shutout loss: “I’m an offensive captain and the quarterback of the team. I’ve got to take it all. I have to find a way to do a better job, whether it’s communication at the line of scrimmage or whatever it is.”

  • Saints LB Jonathan Casillas: "Our defense the first four or five games was on pace to be one of the worst defenses ever. It's just good to finally get a game to where we can be like, 'All right defense, this is us. This is what we're really all about."

Forgettable Freeman: Coming off two consecutive sub-50 percent completion performances, Freeman threw four interceptions. He was coming off two dreadful games, going 18 of 39 vs. Denver and 14 of 34 against Philadelphia. So much for that resurgent first half of the season for him.

Numbers you should know: The Saints swept the Bucs for the first time since 2006, Brees’ first season in New Orleans. … The Saints shut out an opponent in the first half for the first time since Oct. 17, 2010, when they led 17-0 at Tampa Bay in a 31-6 win. … The Saints had more than two interceptions for the first time since their Super Bowl season of 2009, and four interceptions for the first time since 2002. … Bucs RB Doug Martin, who was fourth in the NFL with 1,234 rushing yards entering the game, had nine carries for 16 yards. … With two catches for 61 yards, Morgan’s average per reception dropped from 44.3 on seven grabs to 41.2 yards on nine catches. The NFL record for any receiver with 10 or more catches for a season is 33.7.

Injury update: Nothing significant. Saints LT Jermon Bushrod left briefly with cramps, received some intravenous fluids and returned.

Going forwardSaints -- Although they weren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoff race by the end of the game, they know they don’t have a postseason future. They’ll try to damage Dallas’ hopes next week just like they did to the Bucs’ chances. …. Bucs -- Losers of four in a row. Tampa Bay will try to show signs of a pulse at home in its home finale against the Rams. Coach Greg Schiano’s first season isn’t ending well.

Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on Twitter @CBSSaints.