The New Orleans Saints (2-4) defeated NFC South Division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) in a 35-28 shootout on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.
The Saints now lead the all-time series 11-7 in games played in Tampa Bay and the Saints will host the Buccaneers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, December 16.
The Saints recorded their second consecutive victory and will travel to Denver to face the Broncos on Sunday Night Football next week.
The Buccaneers will travel to Minnesota on a short week to face the Vikings on Thursday Night Football.
"I am proud of the team for how they kept battling because that's what we always talk about," said Saints Offensive Line Running Game Coach Aaron Kromer. "We know we have a good football team and we know we are improving each day."
QB Drew Brees completed 27 of 37 passes for 377 yards, four touchdowns and a 130.1 rating while completing passes to seven different receivers.
Brees has now recorded 62 300-yard passing games, tied for third place all-time in NFL record books. It was also the NFL-record 32nd game with at least 350 yards passing for Brees. Brees passed for 313 yards and four touchdowns in the first half.
RB Pierre Thomas carried 13 times for 32 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. RB Darren Sproles, who appeared in his 100th career NFL game, carried five times for 27 yards and caught four passes for 32 yards and a receiving touchdown.
WR Lance Moore caught nine passes while gaining 121 yards and WR Devery Henderson pulled in three passes for a total of 75 yards including grabs of 30 and 40 yards. WR Marques Colston caught seven passes for 73 yards and a touchdown reception.
S Malcolm Jenkins recorded nine tackles (six solo) and DE Junior Galette earned four tackles and a sack for a loss of five yards.
The Saints converted on nine of 15 third down attempts (60%) and held the Buccaneers to just four conversions on 12 attempts (33%).
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the coin toss and chose to defer until the second half.
After a touchback, the Saints started from their own 20-yard line. The Saints were able to move the chains until a third-down pass by Brees was tipped by DT Gerald McCoy and intercepted by S Ronde Barber. Barber returned the ball 30 yards to the New Orleans 13-yard line.
Then, on the first Buccaneer offensive snap, QB Josh Freeman connected on a 13-yard touchdown strike to WR Tiquan Underwood. K Connor Barth made the extra point to give Tampa Bay an early 7-0 lead.
After a three-and-out by the Saints, Freeman and the Bucs offense came back on to the field. Tampa Bay was able to pick up 62 yards on the ground on a 10-play, 76 yard drive that was capped off by a 36-yard touchdown run by RB Doug Martin. Barth made the extra point to increase the Buccaneers' lead to 14-0.
The Saints were able to answer back on their next possession. Brees completed five straight passes on the drive for a total of 80 yards including a 40-yard strike to Henderson. The eight-play drive lasted 4:09 and was capped off by a 17-yard touchdown pass to Colston.
K Garrett Hartley made the extra point to help close the gap as the Buccaneers led 14-7. The touchdown catch gave Colston his 53rd career touchdown, tied for second in club record books with RB Dalton Hilliard. The play also moved Colston to a tie for fifth with Hillard on the all-time points list.
After starting their drive at the end of the first quarter, the Buccaneers came out hot to start the second period. Martin picked up nine yards and a first down on the opening play before Freeman completed consecutive passes to move the ball down the field. After a 33-yard completion, Freeman connected with WR Vincent Jackson for a 17-yard touchdown through the air. Barth added the extra point and gave the Bucs a 21-7 lead.
The Saints were able to answer once again on their next possession. Brees completed four straight passing attempts to end the nine-play drive that went 80 yards. Brees connected on another deep pass to Henderson, this time for 30 yards. Brees passed for four first downs before capping off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Sproles. Hartley made the extra point to bring the game to 21-14.With the made extra point, Hartley moved to ninth on the club's all-time points list.
The Buccaneers were forced to punt on their next possession, but the Saints were able to move down the field for a score on their third consecutive drive. Brees complete two passes to Moore for a total of 29 yards before he connected on a deep pass down the right sideline to Morgan who went 48 yards for a touchdown. Hartley made the extra point to tie the game, 21-21 in the second quarter.
Tampa Bay's next drive was stopped at the two-minute warning and the Saints received the ball at their own 28-yard line. With less than two minutes to play, Brees and the Saints offense drove down the field.
Brees complete three passes to Moore and two passes to TE David Thomas while picking up 70 yards through the air before capping off the drive on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Thomas down the middle of the field.
Hartley made the extra point to give the Saints a 28-21 lead. On the drive, Moore moved into a tie for seventh on the club's all-time receptions list. Moore later improved his position by making two more receptions.
Freeman was sacked by Galette to end the first half. Tampa Bay started with the football to start the second half. They drove down the field on the opening possession by Barth missed a field goal wide left.
The Saints were then held to a three-and-out and P Thomas Morstead pinned the football down at the Tampa Bay four-yard line.
Freeman connected on a pass to Jackson down the left sideline and Jackson took the football 95 yards before being chased down by S Malcolm Jenkins at the New Orleans one-yard line. The Saints defense then held strong as the Buccaneers were unable to punch the football into the endzone. On fourth down, Freeman ran a play action pass and was taken down for a loss of four yards to give the football back to New Orleans.
Starting from the New Orleans five-yard line, Brees led the Black and Gold offense 95 yards on 12 plays that spanned from the third quarter into the fourth quarter over 5:01.
The Saints picked up five first downs on the way down the field and Brees completed five passes for 58 yards.
Thomas then capped off the drive with a five-yard rushing touchdown with 13:23 remaining in the fourth quarter and Hartley made the extra point to give the Saints a 35-21 lead. The TD run gave Thomas sole possession of fifth place on the club's all-time rushing touchdown list.
The Buccaneers were able to strike back and bring the game within a score later in the fourth quarter. Freeman led the Tampa Bay offense on a 14-play, 81 yard drive. Freeman passed for 70 yards on the drive and connected on a three-yard touchdown pass to TE Dallas Clark. Barth made the extra point to reduce the Saints lead, 35-28.
The Saints then rushed four times before being stopped short of a first down at the two-minute warning.
The Buccaneers took over from their own 21-yard line. Freeman completed consecutive passes of 38 yards to Jackson and 15 yards to Clark to move into Saints territory. Freeman connected on three more passes on the drive but it was enough as the Buccaneers fell to the Saints, 35-28.