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Saints-Buccaneers final score: A final win for Tampa Bay

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The Bucs end the year on a high note.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed to squeeze one final win out of the 2017 season, beating the New Orleans Saints 31-24 in a close game. The Bucs will finish the season with a 5-11 record.

The Bucs kept this game close and competitive throughout, as they have for six weeks, but this time they managed to win it: Chris Godwin came down with a deep ball in the dying seconds to give the Bucs a win, and cap a tremendous rookie season.

After two weeks of outstanding play, Jameis Winston took a step back and threw three interceptions to put the Bucs in much more trouble than they needed to be. Mike Evans struggled to catch the ball, too, and seemed to be playing through some injuries for much of the game. Peyton Barber made up some of that lack of production, with 71 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Chris Godwin was the real star, though, catching seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

The defense was surprisingly good, stopping Drew Brees throughout the game, with Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander being particularly active. There was no real pass rush, as per usual this season, but the defense still limited Brees and company.

One lowlight: the Bucs allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown the first time the Saints got the ball, the second kickoff return touchdown they allowed in two weeks. Alvin Kamara, who was a plague for the Bucs defense the entire game, took it to the house for 106 yards—helped by a couple of unnoticed blocks in the back. Special teams made up for that later in the game, though, returning a fumble for a touchdown on a Saints punt return.

Winston led the Bucs to a late field goal drive to give them a first chance, and somehow turned in a touchdown drive to end the game, with the defense stepping up in between to give him a chance.

And with that, a terrible Bucs season comes to an end. What should have been a return to prominence turned into a 5-11 deception, one barely survived by head coach Dirk Koetter. The Bucs have a lot of work to do this offseason, but this win will give them a little positive momentum.