Tampa Bay 16, New Orleans 11
When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, December 11, 2016
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won five straight games, and their defense led the way again Sunday, holding Drew Brees without a touchdown and picking him off three times in a 16-11 win at Raymond James Stadium.
"What a job by our defense," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "Three to zero in turnovers. ... That was not the prettiest of games. Very proud of our guys for finding a way, and it starts with our defense."
The Bucs (8-5) jumped out to a 13-0 lead early and then held on for the win, preventing Brees from throwing a touchdown pass for the first time in 22 games against them. The win keeps Tampa Bay tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the AFC South lead and in position to take the NFC's second wild card.
The Bucs' defense came up with two interceptions on deflected passes, including one in the fourth quarter by Brent Grimes as the Saints (5-8) were driving for a potential go-ahead touchdown.
Brees completed 25 of 41 for 257 yards while being picked off three times without throwing a touchdown for the second straight week.
"Obviously, it's frustrating. It's disappointing," Saints coach Sean Payton said, dropping three games out of first place with three weeks left in the season. "This group has worked hard and they'll handle it the right way."
The Saints, held to 13 points in a loss to the Detroit Lions last week, struggled to move the ball against Tampa Bay's emerging defense. Twice in the final seven minutes, the Bucs downed a punt inside the 5-yard line.
New Orleans got the ball on its 3 with two minutes left, needing a touchdown to win the game. Keith Tandy picked off a Brees pass on fourth down with 51 seconds left to clinch the win.
"It's awesome to see a guy that gets his chance," Koetter said of Tandy, who has two game-clinching interceptions in two starts filling in for the injured Chris Conte at safety. "Players get pigeonholed a lot in this league. Some guys just need the chance and the right opportunity and Keith's come up big two weeks in a row."
Early in the fourth quarter, the Bucs got to the Saints 7-yard line but couldn't get a touchdown, settling for Roberto Aguayo's third field goal of the day to extend their lead to 16-11.
The Saints looked to take the lead late in the third quarter, but Brandin Cooks' potential 4-yard touchdown catch from Brees was overturned on replay. New Orleans settled for a 22-yard Wil Lutz field goal to cut the Bucs' lead to 13-11.
The Bucs jumped out to a 13-0 lead, dominating the opening quarter and keeping New Orleans' vaunted offense off the field.
After a 41-yard field goal, the Bucs scored on a 1-yard Doug Martin run early in the second quarter to lead 10-0. Rookie Vernon Hargreaves got his first career interception, and the Bucs added a 39-yard Aguayo field goal for a 13-0 lead.
The Saints got on the scoreboard with 5:33 left in the half on a 42-yard Lutz field goal, and momentum shifted when Bucs returner Josh Huff had the kickoff bounce off his helmet and out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
On the next play, Martin was tackled in the end zone for a safety, and the Bucs sent the free kick out of bounds, allowing the Saints to start their drive at midfield.
New Orleans got to the Bucs' 1-yard line with a chance to tie the game before halftime, but a false start and then sack by Robert Ayers backed them up to the 16, and poor clock management forced them to kick on third down. Lutz's 34-yard kick cut the deficit to 13-8 at halftime.
The Bucs had outgained the Saints 167-24 when they took a 13-0 lead, but their only play in the final 8:26 of the half was Martin being dropped for the safety.
Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston completed 16 of 26 passes for 184 yards with no touchdown tosses and no interceptions.
"You start with 16 penalties, 13 of them accepted," Payton said of his team's loss. "It's going to be hard to score. Two weeks now, we haven't scored a touchdown (offensively) and I think you've got to start there. Those keep you from having a chance. We've got to get better."
NOTES: Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston finished the game without a touchdown for the first time in his college or pro career, but said he'll always take a win over any individual accomplishment. ... Tampa Bay S Keith Tandy has picked off game-clinching passes two weeks in a row, having done the same late in last week's win against San Diego, intercepting Philip Rivers. ... Bucs rookie K Roberto Aguayo went 3-for-3 on field goals and connected on his only extra point, winning a battle of the NFL's only rookie kickers with New Orleans' Wil Lutz. ... The Bucs have won five in a row for the first time since their Super Bowl championship season in 2002. ... Saints WR Willie Snead caught a game-high six passes for 85 yards. ... Even though the Saints finished with a 294-270 edge in total yards, the Buccaneers wound up with more possession, 33:15 to 26:45.
Top Game Performances
Team Stats Summary
Tampa Bay will play their next game on the road against Dallas. The Buccaneers have a W/L % of .714 after a win and .500 after a loss.
New Orleans will play their next game on the road against Arizona. The Saints have a W/L % of .400 after a win and .375 after a loss.