Final/OT

Buccaneers 20

(3-12, 2-6 away)

Saints 17

(13-2, 6-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 27, 2009

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 

1 2 3 4 OT T
TB 0 3 0 14 320
NO 14 3 0 0 017

Top Performers

Passing: J. Freeman (TB) - 271 YDS, 2 INT

Rushing: C. Williams (TB) - 24 CAR, 129 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: M. Colston (NO) - 8 REC, 77 YDS

Barth's FG in overtime lifts lowly Bucs for Saints' second straight loss

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- The moment Garrett Hartley's foot drove through the ball, the Louisiana Superdome crowd erupted and Saints owner Tom Benson raised his arms in triumph.

The presumption was that these Saints, in this magical season, were going to pull out another win in the clutch.

More from ESPN.com

After a second straight home loss, New Orleans looks vulnerable as the playoffs draw near, Len Pasquarelli writes. Story


Raheem Morris has never worried about getting fired by Tampa Bay. The way his Bucs played Sunday, he may have sealed his return, Pat Yasinskas writes. Blog

Not so fast.

Hartley's 37-yarder hooked to the left, and those who'd allowed themselves to celebrate prematurely were sent home soon after in stunned silence.

Carnell Williams rushed for 129 yards and a score, and Connor Barth kicked a 47-yard field goal in overtime, lifting Tampa Bay to a 20-17 upset on Sunday that, for the time being, prevented New Orleans from securing home field throughout the NFC playoffs.

Even in what will go down as the best regular season in Saints history, a franchise long known more for its stumbles than success found a way to make history with a loss. According to STATS LLC, the result marked the first time a 13-win team lost to a team that came in with only two victories.

"It's hard to explain," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "We started off fast, then after that there was a big lull."

Fast Facts

• Connor Barth hit a 47-yard FG in overtime to give the Buccaneers two straight wins for the first time since Weeks 9-13 last season and handed the Saints their second straight loss.

• The Bucs had the fewest wins entering a game (two) of any team to defeat another with at least 13 wins in NFL history.

• Garrett Hartley missed a 37-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in regulation which would have won it for the Saints. It's his first career miss inside 50 yards (21 for 21 before that kick).

• The Saints have been held to 17 points in each of the last two games, their longest streak of scoring fewer than 20 points since a four-game streak to start the 2007 season.

• Bloggers' wrapups

• Rapid reaction

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Kind of like their season.

New Orleans (13-2) won nine of its first 11 games by double digits. After a 38-17 win over New England, the Saints appeared better situated than ever to make the franchise's first run to the Super Bowl.

Since then, the Saints have pulled out a pair of three-point wins over non-playoff teams and have lost two straight -- both at home -- starting with a 24-17 setback to Dallas.

If Minnesota wins its final two games, starting Monday night in Chicago, the Saints will have to win in Carolina next Sunday to secure the franchise's first No. 1 playoff seeding.

"The fact is we need to play better," Brees said. "I don't feel like we've played our best football in a while and there's definitely some things that need to be corrected.

"You always find out more about a team when you start facing adversity. This is just yet another one of those situations that I feel we have the right character, the right type of leadership to bounce back from and help us become stronger going into the playoffs."

New Orleans was favored by more than two touchdowns over the Buccaneers (3-12).

New Orleans sped out to a 17-0 lead with its first three possessions, but the Bucs, who have refused to quit on the season, cut it to 17-3 on Barth's 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.

"We went back in the locker room and I tried to settle the guys down," first-year Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said. "They believe in me and I believe in them. ... I know this team is getting better. I could see it every week, even when we were losing."

Williams had not rushed for 100 yards since 2006 -- before serious injuries in both knees. He scored on a 23-yard run in the fourth quarter, speeding away from pursuit once he broke into the open near the left sideline. Micheal Spurlock's 77-yard punt return tied it at 17.

Hartley, who became the Saints lone place kicker this week when the Saints waived John Carney and made him a kicking consultant, said he rushed his missed kick.

"Knowing I let my team down is the worst thing," he said. "It's definitely humbling. You have to learn from these experiences in order to prevail the next one."

After Hartley's miss, only the second in his two-year career and first from inside 58 yards, Tampa Bay won the coin toss to open overtime and scored soon after.

"It feels great to win two in a row," Williams said. "This organization learned something today: that no matter how far down you are you can still get back up. And that's what happened out here today. I am so proud of our offensive line. They did all the work and all I did was hit the holes."

The Bucs might have won in regulation if not for squandering two other scoring chances in the second half, once on Tracy Porter's interception in the end zone and once on a failed fourth-and-short from the New Orleans 19-yard line.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay's defense continued to show improvement since Morris took charge of the group following New Orleans' 38-7 win at Tampa Bay five weeks ago.

Brees was held to 258 yards passing and one touchdown. The Saints rushed for 124 yards, but gained only 28 yards on the ground in the second half, when leading rusher Pierre Thomas sat out with bruised ribs. Thomas had an 8-yard TD run for New Orleans' first score. Robert Meachem's 30-yard catch accounted for the second and was set up by Darren Sharper's ninth interception of the season, during which he set an NFL record for interception return yards in a season with 376.

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman was 21 of 31 for 271 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass and was intercepted twice, but made a pivotal play in overtime when he scrambled for a first down on third-and-6, sustaining the winning drive.

Tampa Bay's Kellen Winslow had four catches for 76 yards, including a 35-yard catch during a 98-yard drive that ended with Williams' score.

Game notes


Buccaneers FB Earnest Graham was helped off the field favoring his right leg in overtime and DE Jimmy Wilkerson left the game under his own power with a knee injury. ... Winslow has 828 yards receiving, breaking the single-season franchise record for tight ends that had been held by Jimmie Giles, who had 786 yards in 1981. ... With their 17th point of the game, the Saints became the 12th team to score 500 points in a season in NFL history. The previous was the 2007 New England Patriots, who scored an NFL-record 589 points while winning all 16 regular-season games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
TB
NO
1st Downs2423
Passing 1st downs
1412
Rushing 1st downs
109
1st downs from penalties
02
3rd down efficiency
7-126-11
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Plays6861
Total Yards439373
Yards per play6.56.1
Total Drives129
Passing263249
Comp-Att
21-3132-37
Yards per pass
7.76.6
Interceptions thrown
20
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-81-9
Rushing176124
Rushing Attempts
3423
Yards per rush
5.25.4
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-31-3
Penalties7-422-14
Turnovers21
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
20
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession36:1530:39

Passing Leaders

TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Freeman21/312718.7023-8
NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees32/372587.0101-9

Rushing Leaders

TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Williams241295.4123
Ward7324.6016
NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas66010.0126
Hamilton7213.0019

Receiving Leaders

TBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Winslow47619.0035
Bryant55210.4022
NORECYDSAVGTDLG
Colston8779.6016
Meachem56613.2130

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERTBNO
noTD6:52Pierre Thomas 8 Yard Run (Garrett Hartley Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 75 yds, 4:29
07
noTD1:40Robert Meachem 30 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 51 yds, 2:59
014
SECOND QUARTERTBNO
noFG6:42Garrett Hartley 28 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 83 yds, 5:07
017
tbFG0:04Connor Barth 34 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 52 yds, 1:45
317
FOURTH QUARTERTBNO
tbTD13:22Cadillac Williams 23 Yard Run (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 98 yds, 4:09
1017
tbTD2:41Michael Spurlock 77 Yard Punt Return (Connor Barth Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 77 yds, 0:00
1717
OVERTIMETBNO
tbFG8:13Connor Barth 47 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 48 yds, 6:54
2017