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Saints Survive Bucs In Wild Win, Improve To 2-0

Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

After being sacked 4 times, throwing two interceptions, including 1 that was returned for an 85 yard touchdown, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was money when it mattered most. Down by 1, with 1:06 to play and no timeouts, Brees led the Saints on a game-winning 54 yard drive, capped off by Kicker Garrett Hartley’s game-winning 27 yard field goal as the clock struck zero. When it was over, the Saints (2-0) were celebrating a 16-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2).

The clock stopped for an hour and nine minutes at the 10:30 mark of the first quarter due to extreme weather that passed through Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans led 3-0 when the teams retreated to their locker room for the delay. Upon returning to the field, the offense moved the ball, but shot themselves in the foot with big mistakes.

One first half drive ended with a Buccaneers interception, setting up Tampa’s only offensive score of the game on a short 35 yard drive. Another ended on a missed Hartley field goal. The final drive of the first half ended a half yard away from a touchdown, as running back Mark Ingram was stuffed at the 1 yard line on a 4th and goal.

The second half wasn’t much better, as one drive ended with a pick 6, and many others via punt. One bright spot for the Saints Sunday was tight end Jimmy Graham, who reeled in 10 catches for a career-high 179 yards.

With the offense struggling, New Orleans’ defense kept them in the game. Only giving up one touchdown on a short field (35 yards), the D held Tampa Bay to 279 yards, forcing 2 turnovers, and sacking QB Josh Freeman once. Holding a divisional foe to 7 points on the road is a rarity, and was downright impossible for the 2012 maligned defense. However, new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has breathed new life into a beat-up Saints D, making clutch plays two weeks in a row.

At 2-0, the Saints remain atop the NFC South. Next week, the Saints welcome the Arizona Cardinals (1-1) to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  Arizona defeated the Detroit Lions today 25-21. Kickoff on Sunday is set for noon. Catch all the action on ESPN1420.

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