TAMPA - Kicker Garrett Hartley's 27-yard field goal as time expired lifted the New Orleans Saints to a 16-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
New Orleans' quarterback Drew Brees drove the Saints on a five-play, 54-yard game-winning drive in a little more than a minute. Brees completed three passes to set up Hartley's game-winner.
The Bucs defense had kept Tampa Bay in the game. Linebacker Mason Foster's 85-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter put the Buccaneers ahead, 14-13. Tampa Bay had a chance to extend the lead, but Rian Lindell missed a 47-yard field goal with 1:06 left allowing Brees one more chance.
The Bucs defense harassed Brees throughout the game and already had intercepted the Saints quarterback twice in addition to coming up with a goal-line stand at the end of the first half.
Linebacker Dekoda Watson's interception of Brees midway through the first quarter helped set up the Bucs first score, a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Freeman to Kevin Ogletree to put the Buccaneers up 7-3.
But Brees, who did rack up 322 yards for the Saints (1-1), answered quickly hooking up with tight end Jimmy Graham on a 56-yard touchdown strike. For the game, Graham totaled 179 receiving yards.
Freeman didn't do much to silence his critics, passing for just 31 yards in the first.
In the third quarter, Freeman had a 76-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson negated by an illegal procedure penalty. Freeman did make a couple of key completions in their final drive, but the Bucs left too much time on the clock for Brees.
Last week, the Bucs were flagged for three personal foul penalties in a season-opening loss to the New York Jets. On Sunday, they were penalized three more times for personal fouls -- two on the same Saints second-quarter drive.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was called for a helmet-to-the-head hit on Brees, negating a sack/forced fumble. And Dashon Goldson, fined $30,000 for last week's hit on Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland, was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Darren Sproles on an incompletion.
As the second quarter was about to end, another helmet-to-helmet hit -- by safety Ahmad Black -- almost costs the Buccaneers. A Graham touchdown reception was overturned and the Saints settled for a Harley field goal. But the Bucs were flagged for offsides, the Saints took the points off the board and eventually were stopped by the Bucs' stout defense on a fourth-down play despite just having 10 players on the field.
NOTES: Lightning caused a delay of a little more than one hour in the first quarter. ... Bucs LG Carl Nicks (MRSA) was inactive for Sunday's game, with LG Gabe Carimi starting in his place for the second straight week. ... The Saints started NT John Jenkins in place of Brodrick Bunkley. ... Bucs DT Derek Landri suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return. ... Saints CB Patrick Robinson was carted off with a knee injury in the third quarter.
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