1:00 PM ET, December 4, 2005
1:00 PM ET, December 4, 2005
Tampa Bay (7-4) at New Orleans (3-8) Sunday 1:00 pm EST
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Ticker) - If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to return to the postseason for the first time since the 2002 season, the next three weeks could be a determining factor.
The Buccaneers open a critical three-game road trip Sunday when they meet the New Orleans Saints on the campus of Louisiana State University.
Tampa Bay is tied with Atlanta for second place in the NFC South, one game behind Carolina. The Bucs visit Carolina next week before playing at two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England the following week.
This is the Bucs' first of two meetings against the Saints, who are in last place in the division. The teams have split the last four meetings.
The Buccaneers enter this contest trying to avoid losing consecutive games for the second time this season following last week's 13-10 defeat to Chicago.
It was a bitter loss as Matt Bryant missed a potential game-tying 29-yard field goal with 2:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Against the top-ranked Bears' defense, Chris Simms completed 19-of-30 passes for 202 yards. His favorite target was Joey Galloway, who had seven catches for 138 yards.
The Saints stopped a six-game losing streak last week with a 21-19 victory over the New York Jets. Aaron Brooks threw for three touchdowns, including a 30-yarder to Devery Henderson with 8:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.
This is the third of four games for the Saints here this season. They already have lost to Chicago and Miami and also host Carolina on December 18 before closing their home slate the following week against Detroit in San Antonio.
Matchup to watch: Galloway, who is over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time since 1998, against right cornerback Fakhir Brown. However, Saints coach Jim Haslett may use his best cover corner Mike McKenzie to shadow Galloway.
Series: The Saints lead, 17-9.
Next week: Tampa Bay visits Carolina, December 11 New Orleans visits Atlanta, December 12
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Bucs start road trip against Saints
Led by a solid defense and the talents of youngsters Chris Simms and Cadillac Williams, the Buccaneers are in the hunt for a playoff spot. This is the first of three straight road games for Tampa. Jon Gruden has done an excellent job this season utilizing the Bucs' talent and getting the most out of his team. After winning two in a row, the Bucs lost a hard-fought battle at home against the Bears last week and will be looking to bounce back.
Aaron Brooks is still inconsistent, takes too many sacks and turns the ball over too frequently, but he now has Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth healthy, and these two are capable of wreaking havoc with Tampa Bay's secondary if Brooks has time to throw. The tragic off-the-field issues that the Saints organization has faced translate into a very weathered football team as this season drags to a finish.
|Avg Points Allowed||16.6||24.6|
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||TB|
|Rush Yds Allowed||TB|
|Tampa Bay leads 5-4|
|Dec 19, 2004||TB 17, NO 21|
|Oct 10, 2004||TB 20, @NO 17|
|Dec 7, 2003||TB 14, @NO 7|
|Nov 2, 2003||TB 14, NO 17|
|Dec 1, 2002||TB 20, @NO 23|
|Sep 8, 2002||TB 20, NO 26|
|Dec 23, 2001||TB 48, NO 21|