Final

Buccaneers 20

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Saints 24

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 7, 2008

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 

1 2 3 4 T
TB 7 3 3 720
NO 7 0 10 724

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 343 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: E. Graham (TB) - 10 CAR, 91 YDS

Receiving: R. Bush (NO) - 8 REC, 112 YDS, 1 TD

Brees' big game too much for Bucs to handle

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Saints fans partied near debris piles and leaning fences -- the lingering evidence of Hurricane Gustav's path through New Orleans last week.

Fast Facts

• Reggie Bush's 42-yard touchdown reception was the game-winner. He finished with eight catches for 112 yards, his third career 100-yard receiving game, which is the most for a running back since his rookie year in 2006.

• Drew Brees threw for 343 yards, his 14th 300-yard game since joining the Saints in 2006. He added three TD passes, his 10th game with three or more TD passes since coming to New Orleans.

• Tampa Bay's Earnest Graham led all running backs in the game with 91 yards on 10 rushes (9.1 per attempt).

-- ESPN Research

The Louisiana Superdome was in good shape, however, as was the team that calls the enduring and iconic stadium home.

Drew Brees passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, giving fans already jubilant about their team's quick return from Gustav a 24-20 season-
opening triumph to celebrate as well.

"It was a great way to start the season off," Brees said. "Obviously, coming off a week where everyone was displaced from their homes here in New Orleans, and coming back and obviously having the fans back in full force -- it was awesome."

Tampa Bay had a shot to win the brutally physical, back-and-forth contest until linebacker Scott Fujita intercepted Jeff Garcia's fourth-down pass, intended for Ike Hilliard, just inside the Saints' 20-yard line with about 40 seconds to go.

"I lost track of where the linebacker was," Garcia said. "If I had to do it all over again I probably would have gone outside and given Antonio [Bryant] a shot."

Brees' scoring passes went for 39 yards to David Patten, 84 yards to Devery Henderson and 42 yards to Reggie Bush, with Bush's score putting the Saints in the lead for good in the fourth quarter.

Garcia was 24-of-41 for 221 yards, including a 2-yard TD pass to Hilliard, which gave the Bucs a brief 20-17 lead.

Tampa Bay's offense produced only one touchdown. The Bucs' defense got the other in the first quarter, when blitzing linebacker Barrett Ruud hit Brees as he threw, causing a fluttering pass that Phillip Buchanon intercepted and returned 26 yards.

"Credit to New Orleans, but we missed some routine plays we normally make," Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden said. "It was bad coaching and bad execution."

Bush, who vowed to come back strong from a down second season in which he never had a gain longer than 25 yards, had 112 yards receiving and 51 yards rushing. He did most of the work on the winning drive, starting with a 29-yard gain on a short reception over the middle.

His touchdown came on a third-down swing pass on which he juked Jermaine Phillips at the 25 and stiff-armed Buchanon at the 5 before diving for the pylon. Bush was close to stepping out of bounds, but Tampa Bay did not challenge the call.

Making the score even more gratifying for Bush was the fact Phillips had been in his face one play earlier.

"The play before he was talking trash and the next play he was on my highlight tape," Bush said.

Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans Highlights

NFL.com Video

Reggie Bush and the Saints win a close one at home defeating the Bucs 24-20.

After sitting out all four preseason games, flamboyant tight end Jeremy Shockey made his debut for New Orleans and had the crowd chanting his name while he celebrated a tough 10-yard catch on third down. The gain, just a few plays after his 26-yard reception, set up Martin Gramatica's field goal late in the third quarter that tied it at 10.

Shockey finished with six catches for 54 yards.

Henderson's TD reception, a career-long catch for him, came after Brees had drawn the Bucs offside and then took a shot downfield for his fastest receiver, who was wide open after Ronde Barber fell down.

"When they jumped offside it was a no-brainer" to throw deep, Brees said.

The play put the Saints up 17-13 in the final minute of the third quarter.

"We don't give up explosive plays, but they were able to get a couple today," Gruden said. "They caught us in a couple man-to-man situations and executed them perfectly."

Tampa Bay finally converted its first third down early in the fourth quarter on Joey Galloway's 13-yard reception, which extended an 11-play, 73-yard drive that ended with Hilliard's score with 10:43 left.

Tampa Bay's Earnest Graham led all rushers with 91 yards on 10 carries. His career-long 46-yard gain, on which he broke four tackles, set up Matt Bryant's 33-yard field goal that gave the Bucs a 13-10 lead in the third quarter.

Game notes


Several Saints left the game with various injuries, including safety Roman Harper, cornerback Randall Gay and lineman Antwan Lake (left groin). Payton did not specify some of the injuries other than to say they appeared minor. ... Deuce McAllister dressed for the game but did not play, as expected, after missing some practice because of tenderness in his surgically repaired left knee. ... Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks left the game with a hamstring injury in the third quarter. ... Charles Grant and Bobby McCray each had one sack for New Orleans. ... Ruud had a game-high 10 tackles for Tampa Bay. ... Jonathan Vilma had nine tackles for New Orleans.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
TB
NO
1st Downs1816
Passing 1st downs
1411
Rushing 1st downs
45
1st downs from penalties
00
3rd down efficiency
2-125-13
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Plays6360
Total Yards352438
Yards per play5.67.3
Total Drives1314
Passing206337
Comp-Att
24-4123-32
Yards per pass
4.810.2
Interceptions thrown
11
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-151-6
Rushing146101
Rushing Attempts
2027
Yards per rush
7.33.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-30-1
Penalties7-667-51
Turnovers11
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
11
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession28:2831:32

Passing Leaders

TBC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Garcia24/412215.4112-15
NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees23/3234310.7311-6

Rushing Leaders

TBCARYDSAVGTDLG
Graham10919.1046
Dunn9546.0014
NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas10525.2018
Bush14513.6026

Receiving Leaders

TBRECYDSAVGTDLG
Galloway6569.3013
Hilliard6457.5111
NORECYDSAVGTDLG
Bush811214.0142
Henderson18484.0184

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERTBNO
noTD11:34David Patten, 39 yd pass from Drew Brees (Martin Gramatica kick is good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 76 yds, 3:33
07
tbTD8:24Phillip Buchanon, 26 yd interception return (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 6 yds, 1:52
77
SECOND QUARTERTBNO
tbFG0:08Matt Bryant 37 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 61 yds, 1:25
107
THIRD QUARTERTBNO
noFG2:54Martin Gramatica 34 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 55 yds, 5:24
1010
tbFG0:38Matt Bryant 33 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 5 plays, 51 yds, 2:16
1310
noTD0:25Devery Henderson, 84 yd pass from Drew Brees (Martin Gramatica kick is good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 84 yds, 0:20
1317
FOURTH QUARTERTBNO
tbTD10:43Ike Hilliard, 2 yd pass from Jeff Garcia (Matt Bryant kick is good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 73 yds, 4:35
2017
noTD7:53Reggie Bush, 42 yd pass from Drew Brees (Martin Gramatica kick is good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 80 yds, 3:00
2024