The New Orleans Saints saw their four-game win streak come to end Sunday afternoon as they fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a 26-20 score at Raymond James Stadium.
The Saints were without Head Coach Sean Payton for most of the game as he suffered a MCL tear and tibial plateau fracture after he was hit at the end of the third play of the game. Payton coached from the bench for most of the first half before heading into the locker room for x-rays. Coach Payton stayed in the locker room for the remainder of the game. He will fly back with team tonight for surgery Sunday night or Monday morning.
QB Drew Brees completed 29 of 45 passes for 383 yards and a touchdown and season high three interceptions. Brees rushed three times for 21 yards.
Brees became the first player with 350 passing yards in four consecutive games in NFL history.
RB Mark Ingram led the Saints in rushing with 22 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.
TE Jimmy Graham notched his fourth-straight 100-yard receiving game. Graham became the first Saint to accomplish the feat. He joins Tony Gonzalez as the only tight ends to do it in single season in NFL history.
Marques Colston had his best game of the season with seven receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.
S Malcolm Jenkins led the Saints in tackles with seven (six solo).
The Buccaneers won the coin toss and chose to receive to start the game.
Following a touchback by P Thomas Morstead, QB Josh Freeman handed off to RB Ernest Graham who was stopped for a loss of one yard. On second down, the third-year signal-caller completed a pass for a gain of 12 yards and the first down before he was stopped by S Malcolm Jenkins. Freeman completed another pass to Winslow, but he was brought down by New Orleans' free safety upon catching the ball for a gain of four. On second down, Graham took the handoff, ran up the middle and was stopped for no gain by DT Aubrayo Franklin.
On third and six, Freeman dropped back and threw a pass intended for Winslow to the middle of the field that hit the ground. Tampa Bay P Michael Koenen booted a 45 yard punt that went out of bounds at the New Orleans 19-yard line.
New Orleans started at the 24 and a first down handoff to Thomas resulted in a loss of two. A second down pass attempt for Colston was incomplete. On third-and-12, a throw was completed to Meachem that resulted in a 23-yard gain and the first down at the 45. Brees then found Colston at the middle of the field for a six-yard gain. On second-and-four, a 12-yard slant to WR Devery Henderson was completed. Following a defensive pass interference penalty on Biggers, Brees completed a pass to Graham for a 19-yard gain.
Following an incomplete pass for Graham in the end zone, on second down, a dump out pass to Sproles resulted in a gain of five yards to the seven. At third and five, Brees kept and gained three yards. On a crucial, fourth and two play, Buccaneers LB Jacob Cutera picked off the pass in the end zone.
On first down, RB Mark Ingram took the handoff and gained seven yards before being tackled by Bucs DE Michael Bennett. On second and three, Ingram was stopped for no gain by Bucs DT Frank Okam. New Orleans would convert on third down though as QB Drew Brees completed a pass to TE Jimmy Graham on a slant and the converted football player showed his muscle from his power forward days to gain 11 yards. After Graham had run into head coach Sean Payton, apparently shaking him up in the process, play resumed and Ingram took a handoff where he didn't gain any yardage before being stopped by Okam and LB Mason Foster. New Orleans would then lose the ball as Brees handed off to RB Pierre Thomas, where Buccaneers LB Geno Hayes forced the ball out and it was recovered by CB Myron Lewis at the New Orleans 33.
Freeman's first down pass was incomplete and he handed off to Graham on second down who was stopped after gaining three yards by S Roman Harper. On third down, Freeman threw to Buccaneers WR Preston Parker who was drilled by Jenkins and couldn't hold onto the ball, forcing Buccaneers K Connor Barth out, who hit a 48-yard field goal to give the Buccaneers the lead.
Starting at their 21, Brees completed a pass for a gain of three yards to FB Jed Collins. On second down, Brees ran a pitch play to RB Darren Sproles who gained 16 yards. On second down, Brees dropped back and completed a pass to Ingram, who gained six yards to the New Orleans 44-yard line. A second down pass was deflected by Tampa Bay CB E.J. Biggers. Once again though, Brees and Graham connected on third down, this time for a gain of 16 yards to the Buccaneers 38. New Orleans would then take the lead like lightning when Brees completed a throw to an open Marques Colston who coasted into the end zone.
Morestead's kickoff fell shy of the end zone, but Parker fielded it right by the sideline and was forced to go out of bounds because of the angle at the 15. A first down throw by Freeman intended for WR Mike Williams was nearly picked off by LB Scott Shanle.
On second down though, the duo connected and before being stopped by CB Tracy Porter accounted for a nine-yard gain. On third-and-one, Freeman took the sneak for a three-yard gain and the first down. Freeman threw a screen to Bucs WR Arrelious Benn who gained five yards before being stopped by LB Jonathan Vilma. On second down, New Orleans was called for a pass interference penalty, moving the chains and advancing Tampa Bay to the 40.
Under pressure, Freeman kept the ball and stepped out of bounds at the 42. Tampa Bay RB Kregg Lumpkin then took a handoff and gained nine yards to the New Orleans 49 for the first down. A pitch play to Benn was snuffed out by the New Orleans defense for a loss of five by Shanle. On second-and-15, Freeman overthrew Winslow out of bounds and in the process C Jeff Faine was called for a holding penalty, bringing Tampa Bay back five more yards. On third and long, Freeman completed a pass to Williams, but Parker was called for holding.
With New Orleans declining the penalty and taking a loss of two, it set up third-and-26, where Freeman completed a pass to the middle of the field to Parker, but the 13-yard gain was 14 yards short of the first down marker, sending Koenen out. The Tampa Bay punter's kick was downed at the New Orleans ten-yard line.
On the final two plays of the first quarter, after an incomplete pass, Brees completed a throw to Colston for a seven-yard gain, which set up third-and-three for the first play of the second quarter. A throw to Sproles fell short, sending the punt unit out. Parker fielded the 53 yard punt at the Buccaneers 20 and called a fair catch.
Graham took the drive's opening carry and plowed forward for a seven-yard gain before being stopped by DT Sedrick Ellis and Shanle. Freeman completed a screen to Williams who gained eight yards and the first down. The Buccaneers would take the lead though on a long 65-yard scoring throw to Benn.
Koenen's kickoff sailed into the stands at Raymond James Stadium. Brees handed off to Thomas, who did not go past the line of scrimmage. On second down, a dump pass was completed to the runner for a five-yard gain. A third down throw intended for Graham was broken up by CB Ronde Barber, sending Morestead back out to the field.
Parker fielded a season-long 61-yard punt with a six-yard return, however Tampa would start at their ten following an illegal block in the back penalty.
Freeman completed a pass to FB Erik Lorig for a six-yard gain. On second down, Graham took a handoff to midfield for a gain of 34 before being stopped by Greer. On second down, Freeman handed off to Lumpkin who gained four before being stopped by DE Cameron Jordan.
On second down, Freeman completed a pass up the middle to TE Zack Pianalto before being stopped by Shanle after gaining six. On the subsequent play, Tampa Bay LG Jeremy Zuttah was called for a holding penalty, putting Tampa Bay back at the New Orleans 47. Freeman rallied the Buccaneers though and completed a short pass to Graham who scampered for a 19-yard gain, setting up second-and-one.
Franklin was then called for an offsides penalty, putting the Buccaneers at the Saints 23 with a first down. Graham took a handoff and was stopped for a one-yard loss by DT Tom Johnson. Following a Tampa Bay timeout, Freeman completed a pass to Parker, but he was stopped for a three-yard loss by CB Patrick Robinson. On third-and-14, a short pass was completed to Winslow for a three-yard gain who was tripped up by the second-year corner, forcing Barth back onto the field where he hit a 42-yard field goal.
Sproles allowed the kickoff to sail out of the end zone and with the touchback and starting position at the 20, Brees' first throw of the drive was deflected by Buccaneers CB Aqib Talib. A second down run by Mark Ingram resulted in only a two-yard gain before he was stopped by Tampa Bay S Tanard Jackson. A throw went off of WR Robert Meachem's hands and was picked up by Jackson and run back to the 25-yard line.
A throw by Freeman intended for Williams was broken up by Shanle. An up the middle throw to Winslow to the 19, set up third-and-four. Freeman then completed a slant to Parker for the touchdown and a 13-point lead.
Following the touchback, Brees completed a throw to Sproles for a six-yard gain. The signal-caller and Colston then connected on a nice 19-yard throw which the wideout caught over his shoulder. A six-yard throw to Sproles got the Saints to the 47-yard line for a gain of eight. On second and two, Brees completed another pass to Sproles for a pickup of six and another first down. However, a throw intended for the back shoulder of Colston was picked off by S E.J. Biggers.
Freeman completed a pass to Graham for a three-yard gain. On third-and-four, Freeman completed a throw to Williams for a gain of 14. Harper stopped the bleeding, perfectly defending an intermediate throw intended for Winslow. A second down throw intended for the tight end hit the ground. On third and ten, a third straight incomplete pass would send the punt unit out. Koenen's 53-yard punt would go out of bounds at the New Orleans two.
Brees immediately found Graham for a nine-yard throw on the middle of the field and then a long completion to the tight end for 43 yards to put the Saints at the Buccaneers 46 with 29 seconds left. Biggers deflected a throw intended for Colston. Following a holding penalty assessed to C Olin Kreutz, Brees completed a throw for 31-yards to Colston to the Tampa Bay 16, where K John Kasay would drill a 33-yard field goal to send New Orleans into the locker room behind by only ten.
Following a touchback to open the second half, Brees scrambled for seven yards and then completed a nine-yard throw to Colston. Following an illegal formation penalty on T Charles Brown, Brees handed off to Ingram for a one-yard gain before he was stopped by Jackson and then Sproles dropped a pass. On third-and-14, a potential connection with Colston was missed sending the punt unit out. Morstead's 51-yard punt was returned six yards to the 23.
Tampa Bay would lose ten yards though on a facemask penalty by G Ted Larsen, but Freeman would rally and complete a throw to WR Dezmon Briscoe that resulted in a 32-yard gain. Under pressure from Will Smith at their 45, Freeman would throw the ball out of bounds. Freeman would move the chains again on a throw to Benn for a 13-yard gain before he was forced out by Greer. At the New Orleans 42, Freeman handed off to Graham who gained five before being stopped by Vilma. A second down pass was dropped by Williams. On third-and-five, facing a pass rush, a pass intended for Parker was ruled incomplete, sending Barth who missed a 55-yard field goal attempt, which would give the Saints starting position at their five.
Brees took advantage of the field position and handed off to Thomas who gained two yards before being stopped by LB Adam Hayward. Brees then completed an 18-yard throw to Graham. Following runs of three-and-six yards by Thomas, Ingram would gain five yards on a third-and-one carry. After Brees completed a throw to Sproles for five yards, Brown was called for a start penalty. With second and ten, Brees kept and gained 11 yards, setting up first and goal at the ten. Kreutz was then called for a false start. At first and goal at the 15, Brees completed a throw to Colston at the seven-yard line. With second-and-goal following that eight-yard gain, he was forced to throw away the ball under pressure. On third down, he completed a pass to Sproles, but he was stopped at the six, sending the field goal unit out, where Kasay hit a 22-yard field goal to put the Saints within seven.
Parker took Morstead's kickoff out of the end zone for a 21-yard gain, putting Tampa Bay's starting position at their 19. On first down, Freeman completed a pass to Mike Williams, which added a personal foul penalty on Jenkins to advance Tampa Bay to the New Orleans 47. Graham then carried into the New Orleans backfield at the 28, where he was stopped by Jenkins after a 19-yard gain. Freeman then completed a pass to Lorig for a three-yard gain where he was tackled by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Graham took another handoff, but gained only one yard before he was tackled by DE Cameron Jordan. On third down Robinson nearly got his hands on a Freeman pass, nevertheless, ending the drive and forcing a 42-yard field goal by Barth.
On the final play of the third quarter, Brees completed a 19-yard pass to Graham. After Ingram was stopped for no gain, CB Elbert Mack was called for a pass interference penalty, moving the chains again. After a one-yard run by Thomas an incomplete pass, Brees completed a throw to WR Lance Moore for a 40-yard gain to advance to the 12-yard line, followed by a run into the end zone by Ingram to cut the Saints' deficit to three.
Starting at the 20, Freeman's first throw of the drive intended for Benn was incomplete. Graham then gained one yard before being stopped by DT Shaun Rogers. On third-and-nine, Buccaneers T Donald Penn was called for a false start penalty. Following an incomplete pass on third down, the punt unit came out. In a game featuring two of the top punters in the NFL, Koenen booted a 58-yard punt and Sproles was stopped for a 10-yard loss.
Starting at the 16, Brees first completed a five-yard throw to Moore. Ingram then took a handoff but he was stopped by Bennett for a loss of five. With third and ten, a throw by Brees was dropped by Graham. Morstead booted a 55-yard punt with a 12-yard return by Parker before he was stopped by S Jonathon Amaya, that would set Tampa Bay up at their 40.
Graham took a carry for a 13-yard gain that put the Buccaneers at the New Orleans 48. Freeman followed up by overthrowing Williams. A subsequent slant to Williams for an 11-yard gain before he was brought down by Porter put the Buccaneers at the Saints 36. The Buccaneers signal-caller then completed a pass to Winslow, where the tight end jumped over a Saints defender, advancing to the 21. Graham took the next handoff and was stopped after gaining only one yard by Jordan. A second down throw intended for Winslow was dropped by the tight end. A third down pass was broken up by Greer, forcing Barth out to kick a field goal still to keep the Saints within a touchdown.
Brees drove the Saints to the the Tampa Bay 2-yard line on the following drive but on fourth and 2 with 3:24 left in the game, LB Quincy Black in the endzone.
The Buccaneers ran out the clock on the final drive.