Rookie Justin Hardee blocked a Tampa Bay punt and returned it seven yards for a touchdown to help lead the New Orleans Saints to a 16-3 halftime lead over the Buccaneers on Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints led 3-0 when they forced Tampa Bay to punt on its first possession. Hardee, a rookie special teams ace, came free up the middle and easily blocked Bryan Anger's punt and then caught the ball on the carom and went untouched into the end zone.
The Saints scored their second touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Drew Brees to Alvin Kamara with 55 seconds left in the half. Several Bucs defenders had a chance to tackle the rookie from Tennessee but couldn't bring him down. The score capped a 93-yard drive for the Saints.
The Saints' lead could have been larged except Kamara fumbled as New Orleans was approaching the red zone in the second quarter. That turnover led to Tampa's only points, a 50-yard Patrick Murray field goal.
Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan sacked Tampa quarterback Jameis Winston in the second quarter. It was Jordan's 53rd career sack, moving into fifth place past Frank Warren into fifth place on the club's all-time list. Jordan shared in a second sack with Alex Okafor that ended Tampa's final possession of the half.
The Bucs (2-5) will get the ball to start the second half as the Saints (5-2) will attempt to hold on and win their sixth consecutive game.
New Orleans Saints key stats
Drew Brees, 15 of 19 for 185 yards with one TD
Mark Ingram II, seven carries for 21 yards
Alvin Kamara, five catches for 83 yards with one TD
Tampa Bay Buccaneers key stats
Jameis Winston, 7 of 13 for 67 yards
Peyton Barber, four carries for 14 yards
DeSean Jackson, two catches for 25 yards
Check out the pregame action in Champions Square outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 5, 2017.