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Game preview: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Teams will play at noon Sunday

Photos from the New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)

After a tough hard-fought loss at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the undefeated Carolina Panthers (12-0), New Orleans visits Raymond James stadium for a matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6), looking to snap a four-game losing streak.

This will be the second of two meetings this season between the NFC South division opponents. Tampa Bay paid a visit to New Orleans for the Saints home opener, leaving with a 26-19 victory. Since 2006, the Saints own a 12-7 record against the Buccaneers, while they've posted a 6-3 record over that time at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans looks to win their fourth consecutive game on the road in Tampa, and have not lost there since Oct. 16, 2011. In a 26-19 loss to the Buccaneers on Sept. 20 in New Orleans' home opener, the Saints had a seven-game winning streak to Tampa Bay snapped.     

This is the fifth of six games against NFC South opponents this season, with the Saints closing out the season in Atlanta on Jan. 3, 2016 for their final matchup within the division. So far, New Orleans is 1-3 this season against NFC South opponents.       

New Orleans took the lead late in the fourth quarter last week against Carolina but were unable to hold on for the victory, ultimately falling 41-38. The Buccaneers are coming off a 23-19 victory against Atlanta on Sunday, where rookie QB Jameis Winston connected on a six-yard touchdown to WR Mike Evans with 1:39 left. 

QB Drew Brees was 24-of-42 for 282 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. The offense, after struggling much of the first half, began to find its rhythm in the second half, with Brees leading the offense on three scoring drives. WR Brandin Cooks had a strong second half, catching a 54-yard touchdown in the third quarter and finishing with 104 yards on six receptions. It was his second career 100-yard receiving game, with both occurring this season. New Orleans has been paced in recent weeks by the inspired play of Cooks, who has 20 catches for 308 yards (15.4 average per reception) and four touchdowns over the last four games. WR Brandon Coleman also caught a touchdown, the second of his career, and finished with a career-high 73 yards on four receptions. RB Mark Ingram finished the contest with 1,174 total yards from scrimmage on the season, eclipsing his previous career high of 1,109 set last season.     

Defensively, the Saints forced three early turnovers, with two occurring in the first quarter. Rookie LB Stephone Anthony took his first career fumble recovery back 31 yards for his first career touchdown, scoring the first Saints defensive touchdown since the 2012 season finale. CB Delvin Breaux intercepted a Cam Newton pass for his second interception of the season.     

New Orleans also made history on special teams, with Anthony returning a blocked PAT attempt 82 yards for a two-point conversion. The return was the first in NFL history since the PAT rules were changed before the 2015 season.

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