The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their fifth straight game by beating the New Orleans Saints, 16-11.
The Bucs ground out a surprisingly low-scoring win as their defense put up yet another shut-down performance, while the offense once struggled to produce much of anything against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Tampa Bay’s shut-down defense saved the day, though, with Drew Brees and company stifled for the first time all season.
The Bucs absolutely shut Brees down for the day, keeping one of the best passers in the NFL to just 257 yards on 43 attempts and a whopping three interceptions with no touchdowns. Jameis Winston was quiet as well, with just 184 passing yards, but Winston produced no turnovers, helping out his offense and defense.
The Bucs are now 8-5, still tied for the lead in the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons, and have a clear path to he playoffs.
The Bucs got off to a good start, and were up 13-0 midway through the second quarter, by steadily grinding down the Saints defense. No spectacular plays, though there was Vernon Hargreaves’ first career interception, which came off a ball tipped by Kwon Alexander.
Midway through the second quarter, though, the Bucs started to mess up. They gave up a field goal, which wasn’t too bad, but then shot themselves in the foot. Josh Huff muffed a kickoff and forced the Tampa Bay offense to start from their own goal-line — the predictable result was a safety.
The ensuing kick went out of bounds, giving the Saints another short field. New Orleans then marched all the way down to the goal-line, but a false start and a Robert Ayers sack as well as some poor time-management forced them to settle for a field goal at the half.
That led to a 13-8 lead for the Bucs at the half, and a very quiet third quarter left things virtually unchanged. The Saints did once again drive all the way down the field, but once again had to settle for a field goal despite multiple shots into the end zone. The Bucs carries a slim 13-11 lead into the fourth quarter.
They extended that to a 16-11 lead early in the fourth, after another stalled red zone possession. And then the long game of running down the clock started. A Brent Grimes interception helped there, as did a terrific play by Ryan Smith to down a Bryan Anger punt at the one-yard line.
Ultimately, the Bucs offense couldn’t run out the clock and the Bucs defense had to clinch the game. They did so in style: a Keith Tandy interception at midfield sealed the win with just under one minute remaining, moving the Bucs to 8-5 and keeping them tied for the NFC South lead.