Last-second field goal rescues Saints

The SportsXchange

TAMPA -- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees isn't ready to call Sunday's final-minute flurry "The Drive."

"Labels like that are for the playoffs," Brees said. "But it was significant."

Brees moved the Saints 54 yard in five plays in a little more than a minute, and Garrett Hartley booted a 27-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Saints to a 16-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.

Tampa Bay sacked Brees four times and intercepted him twice, returning one for a touchdown. However, with New Orleans down by one point with 1 minute, 6 seconds to go, Brees completed three consecutive passes, including a 31-yarder to Marques Colston, to set up the winning field goal.

"That guy Drew Brees, he's magical, he really is," said Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, who had 10 catches for 179 yards. "It doesn't matter what time in the game it is, at what point in the game it is. He has the belief in us."

The Bucs (0-2) believed they had the game won, but instead suffered their second straight loss in the final seconds.

Linebacker Mason Foster's 85-yard-interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter gave the Bucs a 14-13 lead. Tampa Bay had a chance to extend the lead, but Rian Lindell missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt with 1:06 left, allowing Brees one more chance.

"We played our hearts out," Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "We've just got to finish."

The Bucs' defense shined, coming up with a key goal-line stand at the end of the first half to keep it close.

Brees racked up 322 passing yards for the Saints (2-0), completing 26 of 46 passes and throwing for one touchdown.

Linebacker Dekoda Watson's interception of Brees midway through the first quarter helped set up the Bucs' first score, a 5-yard-touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Freeman to Kevin Ogletree, giving Tampa Bay a 7-3 lead.

The Saints answered quickly on a 56-yard strike from Brees to Graham, who had 156 first-half yards.

Freeman didn't do much to silence his critics, passing for just 31 yards in the first half and going 9-for-22 for 125 yards overall. He also lost a fumble. Freeman had a 76-yard-touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson in the third quarter negated by an illegal-procedure penalty.

On Tampa Bay's final drive, Freeman made couple of key completions, but the Bucs gave Brees too much time.

"I thought there were a lot of good things on defense," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "Unfortunately, it'll be overshadowed by the loss, but that's a team sport. We had, really, two bad plays, maybe three, but that's life. It cost us dearly."

The Bucs, flagged for three personal-foul penalties (and 13 overall) in a season-opening loss to the Jets, were called for three more personal fouls Sunday, 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 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 winded down, another Bucs personal foul -- a helmet-to-helmet hit by safety Ahmad Black on Graham -- nearly helped spur another Saints score.

Graham made a 30-yard-catch that was initially ruled a touchdown before overturned by replay. The Saints failed to score on three straight runs, and appeared to settle for a Hartley field goal before the Bucs were called for an offside penalty. New Orleans took the points off the board and went for it on fourth down, but Tampa Bay -- with just 10 players on the field -- stopped running back Mark Ingram short of the goal line.

In all, Tampa Bay committed 10 penalties for 118 yards.

The Saints made it 13-7 early the third quarter on a 44-yard-field goal by Hartley, after Cameron Jordan forced a fumble from Freeman to give New Orleans great field position.

NOTES: Lightning caused a delay of a little more than one hour in the first quarter. ... Bucs LG Carl Nicks (staph infection) 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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