Missed opportunities, penalties and turnovers sent New Orleans to a 16-11 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Brees finished with 257 yards on 25-of-41 passing, but no touchdowns and three interceptions, including one to Keith Tandy on fourth down with 57 seconds left to seal the game, proved costly on a misty evening in Southern Florida. Penalties were a big problem as they Saints had 13 for 104 yards.
The Saints (5-8) outgained the Buccaneers 294-270, but failing to finish off promising drives with touchdowns eventually did them in.
New Orleans started slowly, falling behind 13-0 halfway through the second quarter. Doug Martin's one-yard touchdown dive ten seconds into the second was sandwiched in-between a pair of Roberto Aguayo field goals from 41 and 39 yards out.
Tampa Bay's second field goal drive was set up after a Drew Brees pass intended for Coby Fleener got tipped into the hands of Vernon Hargreaves III.
The Saints finally got on the board after a seven-play, 52 yard drive ended with 42-yard Wil Lutz field goal to bring the score to 13-3.
Josh Huff then muffed the ensuing kickoff, putting the ball on the Tampa Bay one. Paul Kruger and company broke through on the first play to force the safety. New Orleans took the ensuing drive deep into Tampa Bay territory, but were forced to settle for a 34-yard field goal to put the halftime score at 13-8.
New Orleans suffered the same fate in the third when a promising drive advanced all the way to the Tampa Bay four, but the drive fizzled and the Saints settled for a 22-yard Lutz field goal to cut Tampa Bay's lead to 13-11 late in the third.
After Tampa Bay (8-5) tacked another field goal early in the fourth, New Orleans came up empty on its next two drives. The first of which ended with a Brees interception to Brent Grimes and the second ending in three plays after starting at their own one-yard line.
New Orleans got one last opportunity with two minutes left, a timeout and the ball on their own three, but Brees's pass into tight coverage for Willie Snead was picked off to put the game on ice.
The Saints are back in action next Sunday out west against the Arizona Cardinals.
Saints stat leaders
Drew Brees, 25 of 41 for 257 yards with three interceptions
Tim Hightower, six carries for 31 yards
Willie Snead IV, six catches for 84 yards
Buccaneers stat leaders
Jameis Winston, 16 of 26 for 184 yards
Doug Martin, 23 carries for 66 yards
Mike Evans, four catches for 42 yards