Final

Saints 20

(6-6, 1-5 away)

Buccaneers 23

(9-3, 6-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, November 30, 2008

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 3 7 0 1020
TB 0 6 14 323

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 296 YDS, 2 TD, 3 INT

Rushing: W. Dunn (TB) - 22 CAR, 74 YDS

Receiving: M. Colston (NO) - 6 REC, 106 YDS

Bryant's FG, secondary keep Bucs undefeated at home

Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- New Orleans put the game in Drew Brees' hands, and Tampa Bay took it right away.

The relentless Buccaneers defense pressured the NFL's leading passer all afternoon, then intercepted him twice in the closing minutes Sunday to stay atop the NFC South with a 23-20 victory over the Saints.

"You know you're going to get opportunities," Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said after Brees threw on nine of New Orleans' first 11 plays and finished with 47 attempts on a rainy day that might have discouraged some other quarterbacks.

Fast Facts

• Jeff Garcia threw for 119 yards -- the second straight week he won despite throwing for fewer than 200 yards.

• Drew Brees tied a season high with three interceptions -- both were done in divisional road games. The other time was Week 10 at Atlanta.

• Lance Moore set a team record with a receiving touchdown in five straight games.

• Brees threw for 296 yards but was forced to throw 47 pass attempts. He is 2-for-16 in his career with throwing 45 or more pass attempts in a game.

-- ESPN research

• Rapid Reaction

Instead it was Tampa Bay's defense, sometimes overlooked during the team's 9-3 start, that got the best of the Saints star.

"We've got to relish this because we feel like we're one of the best secondaries in the league, and I think our performance today, at least in our minds, proves it," Barber said.

Brees, on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season yardage record, threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns but also was picked off three times -- once in the end zone on a pass that Barber tipped to Cato June -- and sacked once.

"We had our perfect chances out there and we didn't take advantage of it," Brees said. "It's disappointing, very disappointing. It's probably one of the more disappointing losses I have ever been a part of."

Downfield Disaster

Drew Brees has been having a fantastic, and potentially record-breaking, season. But Sunday, when Brees went beyond 10 yards, things got hairy.

Less than 10 10 or more
Cmp. 18 7
Att 33 14
Yds 154 142
TD/INT 1/0 1/3
Rating 77.1 70.2

The victory was the fourth straight for Tampa Bay. The Bucs are 6-1 since Jeff Garcia regained the starting quarterback job, which he lost after a poor performance in a season-opening loss against the Saints (6-6).

Garcia was limited to 119 yards passing, but threw 38 yards to Antonio Bryant for a third-quarter touchdown that put the Bucs up 20-10. Carnell "Cadillac" Williams also scored on an 8-yard run, his first TD since a career-threatening knee injury 14 months ago.

"That was big," said Williams, who gained 20 yards on four carries in his second game since being activated from the physically unable to perform list. "I was just glad that down around the goal line they called my number."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers New Orleans Saints

NFL.com Video

Watch highlights from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 23-20 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Brees was 25-of-47 and wiped out a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit by throwing a 20-yard TD pass to Pierre Thomas and taking advantage of a short punt to tie the game on Garrett Hartley's second field goal with 5:34 to go.

With the game on the line, though, he couldn't stop New Orleans from falling to 0-17 when trailing after three quarters under coach Sean Payton.

"We talk all the time about [putting games away in the fourth] despite what happens through the entire course of the game. We had a chance, at least two chances, and we didn't take them at all," Brees said.

"Give them credit because they played very well and knew what to do to throw us off offensively and make the plays on defense. What hurts really is that we had a chance to win it in the end and didn't take it."

A week after gaining 418 yards in a 51-29 rout of Green Bay, the Saints' high-powered offense sputtered until Brees put together a six-play, 72-yard drive just before the half to give New Orleans a 10-6 lead on his 13-yard TD pass to Lance Moore.

Brees hurt the Bucs with three completions of 39 or more yards in the season opener, but Tampa Bay's secondary did a much better job this time. Marques Colston's 37-yard reception set up the Saints' first TD, though Brees' longest completion other than that was 22 yards to Colston in the first quarter.

The Bucs took control early in the third quarter, marching 46 yards to regain the lead on Williams' first TD since Sept. 23, 2007, against St. Louis -- the week before he torn the patellar tendon in his right knee.

Special teams has been a big part of Tampa Bay's success, and return man Clifton Smith was a huge factor again Sunday. He ran down Glenn Pakulak's 70-yard punt and raced 42 yards to the Saints 39 to set up a second-quarter field goal, then had a 12-yard return to the New Orleans 43 to position the Bucs for Garcia's TD throw to Bryant.

Josh Bidwell's 18-yard punt helped the Saints tie the game, but he redeemed himself with a 37-yarder that pinned the Saints at their own 7 with just under four minutes to go. Phillips intercepted a pass intended for Colston to set up the winning field goal, then Buchanon sealed the victory with his pick on a throw intended for Moore with a little more than a minute left.

"I really feel something special about this team. This is a championship team. We continue to get better; the chemistry continues to grow," Williams said.

"We've got a lot of unselfish guys on this team that play roles. If we keep it rolling like this, the sky's the limit for this team."

Game notes


Colston had six catches for 106 yards. Reggie Bush played for the first time since tearing the meniscus in his left knee on Oct. 19 and having arthroscopic surgery. He finished with zero yards rushing on three carries and five receptions for 32 yards. ... Warrick Dunn led Tampa Bay with 74 yards rushing on 22 attempts.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
New Orleans
Tampa Bay
1st Downs1811
3rd down efficiency
5-132-15
4th down efficiency
0-12-2
Total Yards332254
Yards per play5.04.2
Total Drives01
Passing288105
Comp-Att
25-479-23
Yards per pass
6.14.6
Interceptions thrown
30
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-84-14
Rushing44149
Rushing Attempts
1834
Yards per rush
2.44.4
Penalties5-451-5
Turnovers31
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
30
Possession30:4429:16

Passing Leaders

NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees25/472966.3231-8
TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Garcia9/231195.2104-14

Rushing Leaders

NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas11343.109
McAllister3134.307
TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Dunn22743.409
Garcia7426.0020

Receiving Leaders

NORECYDSAVGTDLG
Colston610617.7037
Shockey45213.0021
TBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Bryant36321.0139
Clayton3299.7026

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNOTB
FG05:37Garrett Hartley 47 Yd 30
SECOND QUARTERNOTB
FG14:50Matt Bryant 38 Yd 33
FG02:34Matt Bryant 23 Yd 36
TD00:33Lance Moore 13 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 106
THIRD QUARTERNOTB
TD10:14Carnell Williams 8 Yd Run (Matt Bryant Kick) 1013
TD08:36Antonio Bryant 39 Yd Pass From Jeff Garcia (Matt Bryant Kick) 1020
FOURTH QUARTERNOTB
TD12:09Pierre Thomas 20 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 1720
FG05:34Garrett Hartley 43 Yd 2020
FG01:55Matt Bryant 37 Yd 2023