The New Orleans Saints were able to take an early lead against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second meeting of the season between NFC South foes.
QB Drew Brees was five for five for 67 yards and a touchdown on the game’s opening drive as he led the Saints 74 yards on just seven plays. Brees completed passes to four different receivers while RB Darren Sproles was able to take a toss play for 15 yards on the ground. Brees capped off the drive with a nine-yard scoring strike to TE David Thomas. K Garrett Hartley made the extra point to give New Orleans a 7-0 advantage.
Later in the quarter, the Buccaneers were driving down the field following two long completions by QB Josh Freeman. Facing second down from the New Orleans 20-yard line, CB Jabari Greer stepped in front of a pass intended for TE Dallas Clark and was able to reach out for an interception that set up another New Orleans scoring drive.
After taking over from the Saints 20-yard line, Brees remained sharp on a drive that spanned from the first quarter to the second period. He completed six of seven passes on the possession for 61 yards on the drive but a penalty inside the Tampa Bay five-yard line set the Saints back as the Buccaneers defense kept the Saints out of the endzone. Hartley was able to add a 25-yard field goal to increase the New Orleans lead to 10-0 at the beginning of the second quarter.
Later in the quarter, the Saints were able to capitalize on another Buccaneer turnover. Faced with a third and long, Freeman threw a pass deep in Saints territory and S Rafael Bush was able take the ball away with an interception and pick up 40 yards on the return almost to midfield.
Brees and the Saints offense were able to use the good field position to their advantage as just a few plays later Brees was able to find Sproles for a two-yard touchdown pass. Brees picked up three first downs through the air on the drive before getting the ball into the endzone and Hartley added the PAT to make the score 17-0.
The Saints offense was able to find its way into the endzone once more before the half on a drive that started inside the two-minute mark. Sproles returned a Tampa Bay punt 37 yards into Buccaneer territory and Brees was able to find TE Jimmy Graham on two passes for 31 yards. Brees capped off the drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to WR Lance Moore, Brees’ third scoring pass of the first half. Hartley added the extra point to give the Saints a 24-0 halftime lead.
The Saints defense continued their solid play with the first possession of the second half. After not allowing a Tampa Bay first down on three plays, the Buccaneers ran a direct snap from the punt formation to move the chains. On the next play though, S Isa Abdul-Quddus was able to intercept a deep pass by Freeman at the New Orleans eight-yard line.
The Saints were able to score another touchdown following the Buccaneers turnover as the running backs combined for 51 yards on the ground, including a 31-yard carry by RB Mark Ingram. Once inside Tampa Bay territory, Brees was able to connect on two passes including a 34-yard touchdown throw to WR Joseph Morgan. Hartley made the extra point to give the Saints a 31-0 advantage that New Orleans held until the end of the third quarter.
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