Tampa, Fla. - The New Orleans Saints resumed their winning ways Sunday, Nov. 17 at Raymond James Stadium and strengthened their control of the NFC South with a 34-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The offense was at its methodical best carving up the Bucs defense as quarterback Drew Brees threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns while Alvin Kamara led a rushing attack that gashed the league's top-ranked run defense for more than 100 yards. The Saints dominated time of possession in the opening half (21 minutes, five seconds) and for the game (37 minutes). Kamara finished with 13 carries for 75 yards, caught 10 passes for 47 yards and had a career-best 27-yard punt return.
Linebacker Demario Davis and safety Vonn Bell came up with timely interceptions for the Saints in the first half, safety Marcus Williams put the game out of reach with a 55-yard pick-six with a little more than five minutes left and P.J. Williams sealed it with an end zone interception with 2:45 to play. The pass rush also provided consistent pressure on Tampa quarterback Jameis Winston with star defensive end Cameron Jordan having 1.5 sacks (9.5 this season, 81 for his career). The interception was the first of Bell's career but his fifth turnover this season. It was Davis' first interception since 2013. Both came on tipped balls, Davis' when it rolled off the back of Tampa tight end O.J. Howard. The last time the Saints had four interceptions in a game was Dec. 16, 2012, also against Tampa Bay.
Both units were missing key starters - cornerback Marshon Lattimore and guard Andrus Peat - yet their replacements stepped in and performed. Nick Easton started at left guard for Peat while Williams started at cornerback opposite Eli Apple. While the Saints' defensive backs were called for several penalties, forcing Winston into four interceptions and a 30-for-51 outing more than made up for it.
The win improved the Saints to 8-2 and grew their lead in the NFC South three games after the second-place Carolina Panthers (5-5) lost to the Atlanta Falcons (3-7). Tampa dropped to 3-7 and was swept in the season series by the Saints.
Receiver Michael Thomas is one of the main reasons the Saints are rolling and he continued his unprecedented pass-catching ways Sunday with eight grabs for 114 yards and one touchdown. In the first half he moved past 90 receptions for the season, setting two NFL records. The fourth-year player out of Ohio State also moved into fourth place all-time on the Saints' career receiving yardage list. It was his fourth straight 100-yard game, sixth this season and 15th of his career. The four straight 100-yard games ties a team record,
Ted Ginn Jr. had one of Brees' three touchdown passes, a 6-yarder in the third quarter. Earlier he made the 400th reception of his career. Brees' other scoring passes were 16 yards to Thomas and three yards to tight end Jared Cook, who made an amazing leaping catch.
New Orleans continues its stretch of NFC South games Sunday, Nov. 24 when the Panthers come to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Following that will be a Thanksgiving night rematch at the Falcons, who ended the Saints' six-game winning streak Nov. 10.
For complete game stats, click here.