Buccaneers 14

(6-7, 4-3 away)

Saints 7

(6-7, 3-3 home)

1:00 PM ET, December 7, 2003


1 2 3 4 T
TB 0 14 0 014
NO 7 0 0 07

Two late first-half TDs enough for D

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had hit bottom.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Bucs: Given Dallas' and Seattle's flaws, can the Bucs sneak into the playoffs?
The Bucs are playing too inconsistently to make the playoffs. From one week to the next, there's no way to know which team will show up. This week, the Bucs' players responded to their backs being against the wall and stopped the Saints. Defensively, it looked as if the team of old at times, especially the way Saints' RB Deuce McAllister was shut down.

Question on the Saints: How responsible are Haslett and the coaching staff for the team's up-and-down play?
The past three seasons have been difficult for the Saints and their fans. This year, the team looked like it was going to go on a mini-run and possibly sneak in to the playoffs. But as has been the case before, this team folded when it counted. The responsibility for the Saints' failings has to fall on the coach. Right now, he has to get this team together to stop the players from quitting on him as they've done the past two years.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Losers of four of the last five, the defending Super Bowl champions were on the brink of elimination from the NFC playoff race following a 17-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. And they were facing a team that had beaten them three straight times.

For the Bucs it all added up to inspiration. Tampa Bay (6-7) scored two touchdowns in the final 1:25 of the first half to defeat the New Orleans Saints 14-7 on Sunday.

"The thing about it is the demise of the world champions is greatly over exaggerated," said Warren Sapp, who caught one of Tampa Bay's two touchdown passes. "We're still alive and we're still kicking. There's no quit in this ball club."

Both teams clung to slim playoff hopes, but needed to win the final four games to have a chance.

Tampa Bay swarmed Saints running back Deuce McAllister every time he got the ball. The Bucs held McAllister to 69 yards rushing, snapping his nine-game streak of gaining 100 yards or more.

"They put eight, nine in the box," McAllister said. "Linebackers playing a little deeper to definitely take away the cutback run. It was a pretty good scheme, but you still had to make plays, just keep hammering away. We just got down and had to throw the ball more than we would like."

The Saints looked as if they would add a fourth victory against the Bucs, going up 7-0 in the closing minutes of the first quarter. Aaron Brooks capped an 86-yard drive with a 31-yard pass to Boo Williams.

New Orleans appeared to be on the verge of making it 14-0 at the half. But Joe Horn, who had nine receptions for 118 yards, dropped a pass at the Tampa Bay goal line. On the next play, Brooks dropped the ball as he drew his arm back to pass. Jermaine Phillips picked it up and got to the New Orleans 37.

"In a minute-forty we had a dropped touchdown, two fumbles, a blocked punt, two penalties, and missed tackles for a touchdown," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "Twenty-eight minutes before that we played good football."

Two plays later, Brad Johnson hit Ken Dilger with a 14-yard pass to tie the game at 7.

Then Tampa Bay's David Gibson blocked a Saints punt with 28 seconds remaining and Ronde Barber scooped it up and ran to the 1. Johnson hit Sapp for the TD and the Buccaneers took a 14-7 lead into halftime.

"It gives us momentum going into next week," Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks said.

Although New Orleans scored only one touchdown, the Saints dominated the first half, holding the ball for 20:02 to Tampa Bay's 9:58, outgaining the Bucs 216 yards to 113.

In the second half, neither team did much, and the Saints' December woes continued. The past two Decembers, the Saints finished 0-4 in 2001 and 0-3 last year.

Brooks completed 20 of 30 attempts for 238 yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked seven times and fumbled four times.

Johnson was 20-for-34 for 213 yards and two touchdowns.

The fans were so frustrated that after former LSU defensive lineman Anthony McFarland recovered a fumble in the third quarter, they chanted, "L-S-U! L-S-U! L-S-U," perhaps finding solace in the Tigers' victory in the Southeastern Conference championship game.< ^Notes: Bucs QB Brad Johnson's 213 passing yards gave him more than 3,000 for the third straight year ... Saints WR Joe Horn has caught at least one pass in 75 straight games, 61 with the Saints and 14 with Kansas City in 2000... Tampa DE Simeon Rice had three sacks for 14 yards in posting the 27th multi-sack game of his career ... Sunday marked the 50th regular season start of New Orleans QB Aaron Brooks' career ...Injuries: Tampa Bay, S David Gibson (sprained left knee), Sapp (sprained left ankle); New Orleans, LB James Allen (sprained left knee), OL LeCharles Bentley (sprained left knee).

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 1 plays, 1 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 1 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 2 plays, 37 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 2 plays, 37 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 10 plays, 76 yds, 4:19
Drive info: 10 plays, 76 yds, 4:19