Behind a strong performance in all three phases, the Saints came out with a 27-16 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints outgained the Buccaneers 453-365 in the total net yards. Saints converted five of 10 third downs compared to the Buccaneers 2-12 performance.
"It was good and important win. Being the more physical team helped us today," said Head Coach Sean Payton. "Both teams are trying to do the things that statically have been the difference in this rivalry. Overall, we are pleased with the win."
QB Drew Brees completed 27 of 36 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
The Saints totaled 195 yards on 28 carries for a 7.0 average led by RB Chris Ivory who finished with 67 yards on 15 carries in his second game of the season.
RB Pierre Thomas notched a season-high 66 rushing yards on eight carries including a nine-yard touchdown.
RB Darren Sproles chipped in with 42 yards on four carries.
TE Jimmy Graham led the Saints in receiving with six catches for 78 yards. Sproles and WR Marques Colston each had five receptions for 57 and 52 yards respectfully.
LB Jonathan Casillas led the Saints defense with 10 tackles.
Tampa Bay won the coin toss and elected to receive. P Thomas Morstead's kickoff sailed in the end zone for a touchback.
QB Josh Freeman handed off to RB LeGarrette Blount who was stopped for only a three-yard gain by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar.
On the next play, on a pass thrown by Freeman, intended for Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams, CB Tracy Porter defended it and both the corner and wideout were shaken up on the play. Porter had to be carted off on a stretcher.
When play resulted ten minutes later, Freeman overthrew WR Dezmon Briscoe, sending the punt unit out. RB Darren Sproles took the 49-yard punt at the 28 yards line and returned it 15 yards to their 43.
RB Chris Ivory took New Orleans' first offensive play and gained four yards before being tackled by Tampa Bay DT Brian Price. RB Pierre Thomas then took a handoff and got a first down, gaining five yards before being tackled by Buccaneers LB Mason Foster.
Ivory then converted the first down, gaining five yards before being tackled by Tampa Bay LB Quincy Black. Brees then threw to Thomas on the first passing play of the game, gaining two yards before being stopped by Black and Buccaneers S Tanard Jackson.
On the next play, New Orleans dropped back five yards for second and 13 on an illegal formation penalty. On second down, Brees overthrew WR Devery Henderson on a potential long play. On third down though, Brees and Colston for a first down at the 19. But the Saints could not convert again and sent K John Kasay out, whose 42-yard field goal attempt was no good.
With Tampa Bay starting at their 32, Freeman first handed off to Blount who gained 15 yards on a run play before being tackled by S Roman Harper. Blount carried again forward to the New Orleans 45 before being stopped by Harper and LB Jonathan Casillas. Blount then converted the first down advancing to the 38 before being tackled by Harper. On first-and-10 at the 38, Freeman carried for one yard before being tackled by Harper. Blount took a handoff and gained two before being tackled in a pile by LB Scott Shanle.
On third and seven, Freeman completed a throw to Williams who had returned to the game, gaining six yards and seeing up fourth and one, where the Bucs would go for it. A goal line stand led by Casillas led to Blount fumbling and Buccaneers FB Erik Lorig picking up the ball at the 34-yard line. The fumble was forced by Harper.
The Saints then got to work on the ground as Sproles ripped off a 35-yared run and then Brees completed a pass to Sproles that resulted in a gain of 15, advancing the Saints to the Tampa Bay 16. Ivory then carried up the middle, for a gain of two yards before being dropped by Black. Then on a screen from Brees, Thomas gained ten yards, set up first and goal at the three, where the signal-caller, completed a scoring throw to WR Lance Moore to put New Orleans up 7-0.
After Morstead booted a touchback into the end zone, DE Cameron Jordan stopped Blount for a one yard loss and subsequently Tampa Bay was called for an illegal substitution penalty with 12 men in the huddle, setting up second and 16 at the 14.
Freeman completed a pass to Williams for a gain of six, before being tackled by CB Jabari Greer, setting up third and ten. Freeman completed a throw under pressure up the middle to Buccaneers WR Preston Parker for a 36-yard gain, before he was forced out of bounds at the New Orleans 44 by CB Leigh Torrence. On the next play, Tampa Bay WR Arrelious Benn was called for offensive pass interference, setting up first and 20 at the Buccaneers 44, as time expired in the first quarter.
In the first play of the second stanza, Freeman completed a dump-out throw to Blount but he was stopped by Greer for a loss of three yards. On second-and-23, Freeman completed a 16-yard throw to Benn. On third and seven from the Saints 41, TE Kellen Winslow Jr. was called for offensive pass interference. On third and 17 at the Tampa Bay 49, Freeman completed a short pass to Tampa Bay RB Kregg Lumpkin before he was stopped by Dunbar at the 38, sending Tampa Bay P Michael Koenen out. Koenen's punt sailed in the end zone for a touchback.
Starting at the 20, Brees led New Orleans on a six-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Sproles to give the Saints a 14-0 lead. Another big play on the drive was a 33-yard rush by Thomas.
With the Buccaneers starting at their 41, Freeman was sacked by Harper for a loss of no yards. On second down, Blount carried around the left side and he was tackled by Dunbar after gaining six yards. Freeman's pass on third down was incomplete, with the pass being deflected by Jordan. CB Patrick Robinson was called for a delay of game penalty on the punt play, giving the Buccaneers five yards and the first down though. The Saints got the yardage back though on a subsequent false start penalty on Tampa Bay. A pass intended for Blount was defensed by Casillas. Tampa Bay then called a timeout from the crowd noise. On two successive plays, Tampa Bay couldn't get a first down, sending the punt unit out. Sproles called a fair catch at the ten on Koenen's 32-yard punt.
Following a gain of three yards by Thomas, Brees rolled out and it appeared he had found WR Robert Meachem for a first down, but the wideout had stepped out of bounds. On third and seven, the signal-caller bought time and eventually found Moore for an 11-yard gain and the first down. Ivory took the first down carry up the middle three yards to the 26, before he was tackled by Black and Buccaneers DE Adrian Clayborn. A second down pass intended for TE John Gilmore was incomplete. On third and seven, Brees completed a throw to Colston, but it was one short of the marker sending the punt unit out. Following the punt, Tampa Bay would have starting position at their 25.
Freeman completed a long throw to Briscoe for a long gain to the New Orleans 29. Freeman then handed off to Lumpkin who gained four yards before being tackled by Harper. Following the two-minute warning, Freeman completed a pass to Winslow for a gain of two, to setup third and four.
Buccaneers QB Josh Johnson came in in relief of Freeman and was stopped for no gain by DT Aubrayo Franklin and DT Sedrick Ellis. Tampa Bay K Connor Barth kicked a 40-yard field goal to put Tampa Bay on the scoreboard.
With starting position at the 20, Brees first completed a pass for a 23-yard gain to TE Jimmy Graham and then a throw for a gain of nine to Colston. The second down throw went to Graham at the 30-yard line for a gain of 19 yards with the Saints calling a timeout. A subsequent throw was dropped by Graham. Brees though moved the chains again, completing a pass to Sproles that resulted in an 11-yard gain.
Brees then completed a pass to Henderson on the Tampa Bay side of the field for a six-yard gain where he was stopped by Buccaneers CB Aqib Talib, with New Orleans calling their final timeout of the first half. Brees completed a pass to Colston where he was stopped at the three and then spiked the ball to send the field goal unit out, where Kasay kicked a field goal to extend New Orleans' lead back to 17-3 at halftime.
Sproles took the second half's opening kickoff out of the end zone 24 yards to the 20. On the first offensive play of the half, Ivory, carried for a five yard gain before being tackled by Foster. Thomas then gained six yards for the first down before being stopped by Buccaneers S Sean Jones. Brees then completed a seven-yard throw to Henderson, who was stopped by Talib. On second-and-three, Thomas took a handoff for a yard. However, on third down, Brees was picked off by CB Ronde Barber at the 33.
Freeman, who returned to the game, handed off to Blount, who gained two yards to the 31. On second and eight, Blount took another handoff and gained four yards up the middle before being stopped by Shanle and Casillas. On third and four, DE Will Smith was called for encroachment giving the Buccaneers first and ten at the 22. On the next play, Freeman and Lumpkin were unable to connect. Blount carried on the next play and only got one yard, the running back was called for unnecessary roughness, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and loss of down. Freeman completed a pass to Williams on third-and-26, where he got six of the yards back, bringing the field goal unit out, where Barth hit a 48-yard attempt.
Sproles took the kickoff return six yards deep into the end zone and was tackled by Buccaneers LB Geno Hayes at the 24-yard line. To start New Orleans' next drive, Brees and Colston connected on a nine-yard gain at the middle of the field.
Ivory then took a handoff and on the carry took a Buccaneers defender with him before he was tackled at the 38 by Barber and Buccaneers LB Adam Hayward. Brees then completed a throw to Thomas, where he bulled forward for a seven-yard gain before being tackled by Buccaneers DL Michael Bennett. Ivory then moved the ball into Buccaneers territory with a gain of ten before being stopped by Tampa Bay DL Da'Quan Bowers at the 45.
With a fresh set of downs, Brees completed a five-yard throw to Thomas. A screen pass to Sproles then resulted in a first down, with a gain of seven yards. A pass over the top intended for Graham was covered by Tampa Bay, creating a second-and-10. Ivory took the second down handoff and rambled to the 24-yard line for an eight-yard gain where he was stopped by Jackson. On third and two, a screen to Sproles resulted in a gain of four and the first down. Pierre Thomas took the first down carry and was stopped by Hayward after gaining one yard. A pass was then completed to Moore for a six-yard gain.
On third-and-three, Barber was called for holding, setting up first-and-goal at the nine. Thomas then carried into the end zone to put the Saints up 24-6. A personal foul against Jones on the extra point would have Morstead kicking off from the 50, which would result in the touchback.
With Tampa Bay starting at their 20, Freeman completed an 11-yard pass to Blount and then the running back rushed for 27 yards. Freeman then completed a throw to Lorig for six yards and Blount gained three more on a run. A third down play resulted in an incompletion and Tampa Bay was flagged for delay of game on fourth and one from the 33. Going for it on fourth and six from the 38, Freeman completed an eight-yard pass to Williams on the final play of the third quarter.
After Tampa Bay advanced as far as the 13 and was stopped on in incomplete pass on third-and-three, the Buccaneers went for it and Jenkins was called for a pass interference penalty. Advancing to the seven, a Freeman pass intended for Winslow was incomplete. Freeman kept on the second down play and was stopped by Greer for no gain. On third-and-goal from the seven, a throw by Freeman was broken up by Robinson, forcing Barth out onto the field, where he kicked his third field goal of the day.
With New Orleans starting at the 20, Ivory was stopped for no gain by Foster. A second down throw intended for FB Jed Collins was dropped by the running back and then Sproles was stopped for only a gain of two by Clayborn. Morstead punted to Parker, who fumbled it initially, recovered it and then had the ball forced out by S Jonathon Amaya before it was recovered by him at the 23-yard line.
Freeman led the Buccaneers down to the NO 5-yard line where he connected with Winslow for a touchdown with 5:33 left in the game.
On the following drive, Brees led a the Saints on a 11-play 63-yard drive that took 4:16 off the clock and set Kasay up for 34-yard field goal for the game's final score with 1:17 left in the contest.