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New Orleans Saints Take on Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday

Posted Dec 15, 2012

The Saints won the first meeting, 35-28, at Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 21

Jonathan Vilma

The New Orleans Saints (5-8) will return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome following Sunday’s 52-27 loss to the New York Giants, to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who enter the game at 6-7, on Sunday at Noon CT.

The game will be regionally televised on FOX (WVUE -FOX 8 locally).  

The NFC South rivals have met 41 times, with the Saints holding a 24-17 advantage in the series. New Orleans will be looking for their first series sweep against the Buccaneers since the 2006 season, and their third since the division was established in 2002.

Since 2002, 14 of the 21 games between the two clubs have been decided by a touchdown or less, including the Saints’ 35-28 victory at Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 21. New Orleans has won the last two games in the series with Tampa Bay winning the previous two contests.  

New Orleans struck first on Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champions at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as CB Elbert Mack picked off a pass by New York QB Eli Manning and returned it 7yards for a touchdown. It was the third interception return for a touchdown by an opportunistic New Orleans defense in 2012, which is tied for fourth in the NFL in the category.   

However on the next play from scrimmage, Giants RB David Wilson would return the kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Following a fumble on New Orleans’ next offensive possession, the Giants would convert the turnover into seven points to give the New York the lead for good in the contest.

Offensively, QB Drew Brees completed 26-of-43 passes for 354 yards and one touchdown. Brees went over 350 yards passing for the 33rd time in his NFL career, increasing his NFL-record total.  

His top targets were WR Joseph Morgan and RB Darren Sproles. Morgan had receptions for 62 and 44 yards respectively, for the first 100-yard performance of his NFL career. The second-year wideout has shown a propensity for big plays in 2012 in limited action. Of his seven receptions, six have gone for distances of 80, 62, 48, 44, 38 and 33 yards.

Sproles proved to be an important asset both on the ground and through the air. He carried five times for 56 yards, powering a running game that had 142 yards total. One of his carries was a 34-yard rush, while another was a spectacular 13-yard scamper into the end zone in the third quarter.

Sproles also had four receptions for 28 yards, as his nine-yard scoring grab from Brees near the end of the third quarter put the Saints within eight points. It was the versatile runner’s first multiple touchdown game of the 2012 season.   

Defensively, New Orleans showed a nose for the ball by picking off Manning twice. In addition to Mack’s first quarter interception return for a touchdown, S Isa Abdul-Quddus recorded the first interception of his career late in the third quarter in Saints territory, setting up Sproles’ second touchdown.

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