THIS WEEK: Coming off a 17-14 win at the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football which clinched their second consecutive playoff berth, the Saints will continue their pursuit of the number one seed in the NFC when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their regular season finale on Sunday, Jan. 2 at noon CT.
TELEVISION: The game will be televised regionally on FOX. Thom Brennaman will handle play-by-play and Brian Billick will serve as color analyst. The game will air in the New Orleans area on FOX 8and*in Baton Rouge onWGMB Channel 44. The game also airs onKADNin Lafayette,WDBDin Jackson, MS andWXXV *in the Mississippi Coast.
RADIO: Jim Henderson and Hokie Gajan will call the game on the Saints Radio Network with Kristian Garic on the Saints sidelines. The game will air live on Saints Radio Network originating on WWL 105.3 FM and 870 AM, with pre and post-game analysis. The radio pregame and postgame shows will feature former Saints Steve Korte and Bobby Hebert as well as host Deke Bellavia.
SPANISH RADIO: Saints 2010 games air in Spanish on radio station La Fabulosa, WFNO 830 AM. Emilio Peralta and Marco Garcia handle announcing duties.
SERIES: The Saints and Buccaneers first met in 1977, a year after Tampa Bay's inaugural season. New Orleans has posted a 22-15 record against Tampa Bay, the club's best winning percentage (.595) vs. an NFL opponent. The series is defined by tight, hard-fought games. The two clubs split their two annual meetings from 2008-09. Ten of the last 15 games have been decided by a touchdown or less - including five by a field goal since 2003. The Saints hold a 12-7 advantage in games played in the Superdome. Since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006, the Saints have a 5-4 record against the Buccaneers.
LAST MEETING: Saints 31, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6; October 17, 2010 @ Raymond James Stadium – The Saints had their most dominating performance of the season on both offense and defense to beat the Buccaneers 31-6 and improve to 4-2.
New Orleans started off fast as they scored on their opening drive for the fifth time in six games, marching down 94 yards on seven plays, ending with a 41-yard touchdown pass from QB Drew Brees to WR Lance Moore. New Orleans extended their lead to 14-0 when Brees found WR Robert Meachem for a 41-yard TD early in the second quarter The Saints went into halftime with a 17-0 edge.
New Orleans continued their outstanding defensive performance in the third quarter when LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar forced a fumble by Tampa Bay RB Carnell Williams, recovered by LB Marvin Mitchell at the Tampa Bay 45-yard line. Eight plays later, Brees found FB Heath Evans for a four yard TD.
The Saints defense held Tampa Bay scoreless until they scored a touchdown with 5:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans rolled to 475 yards of total offense, 298 in the first half, while holding Tampa Bay to 277, including only 42 on the ground, 20 in the first half as the Saints took control. New Orleans churned out a season-high total of 212 rushing yards.
Brees completed 21-of-32 passes for 263 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 109.2 passer rating. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman was held to 18 completions on 43 attempts for 219 yards.
CONNECTIONS:Offensive line/running game coach Aaron Kromer served on the Tampa Bay coaching staff from 2005-07...DL Jimmy Wilkerson played for the Buccaneers from 2008-09...DE Alex Brown played at the University of Florida from 1998-2001, where he and Buccaneers RB Ernest Graham were college teammates. Brown prepped at Hamilton County (White Springs, Fl.) High School…Buccaneers TE John Gilmore was a sixth round draft choice of New Orleans in 2002. Gilmore and Brown were teammates in Chicago from 2002-07...DL Anthony Hargrove prepped at Port Charlotte High School. Hargrove and Tampa Bay LS Andrew Economos were college teammates at Georgia Tech...TE Jeremy Shockey, LB Jonathan Vilma and Tampa Bay TE Kellen Winslow Jr. were college teammates at the University of Miami (Fl.), key cogs to the 2001 national championship squad...Director of player development Fred McAfee played for Tampa Bay in 1999...LB Kawika Mitchell is a Central Florida native who prepped at Lake Howell (Fl.) High School and played at the University of South Florida...Tampa Bay DT Al Woods prepped at Elton High School, played at LSU from 2006-09 and was a fourth round pick of New Orleans in 2010...Tampa Bay associate head coach/special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia served as assistant head coach and also tutored running backs special teams at the University of Mississippi. Buccaneers WR Michael Spurlock played at Mississippi...QB Drew Brees was tutored by Buccaneers offensive coordinator Greg Olson at Purdue from 1997-2000...DT Remi Ayodele, K Garrett Hartley and Tampa Bay G Davin Joseph were college teammates at the University of Oklahoma...Tampa Bay DE Stylez White competed for a roster spot with the Saints in 2003...Defensive line coach Bill Johnson and Buccaneers linebackers coach Joe Baker served on the same coaching staff in Denver. Baker served on the Saints coaching staff from 2000-04...Tampa Bay assistant to the head coach Jay Kaiser served as WR Lance Moore's position coach at Toledo in 2001...Buccaneers offensive line coach Pete Mangurian played at LSU from 1975-78 and coached the Tigers offensive line from 1984-87. Manguarian, defensive backs coach Dennis Allen and Johnson served on the same staff in Atlanta...TE David Thomas, Tampa Bay DE Tim Crowder and T Frank Okam were teammates at the University of Texas. Johnson served as Crowder's position coach in Denver from 2007-08...DE Junior Galette and Tampa Bay S Dominique Harris were college teammates at Temple University...Tampa Bay S D.J. Johnson played at Jackson State University...T Jon Stinchcomb and Tampa Bay S Sean Jones were college teammates at the University of Georgia...Tampa Bay combine scout Tony Kinkela served as director of football operations at Tulane University from 2006-08...C/G Matt Tennant was tutored by Tampa Bay running backs coach Steve Logan when he served as offensive coordinator at Boston College from 2007-08. LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Tennant and Buccaneers TE Ryan Purvis were college teammates with the Eagles. Dunbar and Buccaneers T Jeremy Trueblood were teammates at BC also...Mangurian tutored TE Dave Thomas in New England from 2006-08...Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt played for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in Buffalo from 2001-03...CB Patrick Robinson and Tampa Bay LB Geno Hayes were teammates at Florida State...QB Drew Brees and Buccaneers LB Niko Koutouvides were teammates at Purdue...LB Scott Shanle and Tampa Bay LB Barrett Ruud were teammates at Nebraska. G Carl Nicks and Buccaneers S Larry Asante were later teammates with the Cornhuskers...Tampa Bay G Brandon Carter went to 2010 training camp with the Saints...Offensive assistant/wide receivers Carter Sheridan played defensive back at Florida A&M from 1996-98...Area scout Mike Neu played for the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators in 1996...Assistant athletic trainer Duane Brooks received his undergraduate degree from Florida A&M and earned his graduate degree from Florida State where he served as an assistant athletic trainer for six season. Brooks completed summer internships with the Buccaneers in 1992, 1993 and 1996...Vice President of ticket and suite sales Michael Stanfield is a graduate of St. Leo University...Box office manager Justin Varnum previously worked in the Buccaneers ticket office before coming to New Orleans.
NEXT WEEK: If the Saints win and the Atlanta Falcons lose to the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans would have the NFC's number one seed and would enjoy a first round bye. As Saints win and Atlanta win, as well as a New Orleans loss would put them at the number five seed where they would travel to the NFC West champion, which will be the winner of Sunday evening's St. Louis-Seattle contest.