National Football League
 
 
      === Brees back on track as Saints rip Bucs to end losing streak ===
 
 New  Orleans, LA  (Sports Network) - After two less-than-stellar performances,
 Drew Brees looked like a two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year once again.
 
 Brees  completed 26-of-39 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns to lead the
 New Orleans Saints to a 41-0 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
 
 Lance  Moore, Joe  Morgan,  David  Thomas and  Darren  Sproles  each caught  a
 touchdown pass for the Saints (6-8), who put the brakes on a three-game losing
 streak. Jabari Greer had two interceptions in the win.
 
 "Pitching a shutout after the first couple of games this year, you couldn't
 have predicted that," said interim head coach Joe Vitt. "But that is staying
 the course with the right players, the right coaches, the right attitude,
 the right teaching progression and the proper accountability to one another."
 
 Josh  Freeman  struggled,  completing  26-of-47 passes  for  279  yards,  four
 interceptions  and  a  lost  fumble.  Doug  Martin,  who  was  second  in  the
 league  in  yards from  scrimmage entering  the game, picked  up just 35 yards
 combined  for the Buccaneers (6-8), who were shut out for the first time since
 a 24-0 loss to the New York Giants in 2009.
 
 "I didn't get this team ready to go today for whatever that reason is," said
 Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano. "They fought their guts out. It's just that
 I didn't do a good job of getting ready and we didn't play well."
 
 Tampa  Bay has  dropped four straight and has officially been  eliminated from
 playoff contention with the setback.
 
 The Saints scored on the game's opening drive when Brees connected with Thomas
 for  a  9-yard touchdown completion.  Earlier in  the drive, Brees completed a
 short  pass to Pierre Thomas,  who turned upfield 24 yards to the Tampa Bay 11
 to set up the touchdown pass.
 
 After  trading  punts, Freeman's pass was  intercepted by Greer at the Saints'
 16.  Brees then orchestrated an 11-play, 74 yard march that ended with Garrett
 Hartley's 25-yard field goal to put the Saints up 10-0.
 
 Following  another exchange of punts, Freeman was picked off once again. Brees
 and the Saints needed eight plays to find the end zone as Brees connected with
 Sproles for a 2-yard touchdown pass and a commanding 17-0 lead.
 
 Brees  added a 7-yard  touchdown pass to Moore  with nine seconds left  in the
 first half to push the Saints' spread to 24-0.
 
 Freeman  was picked off once again early in the third to set up Brees' 34-yard
 touchdown pass to Morgan down the left sideline put New Orleans ahead 31-0.
 
 Hartley added a 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and Mark Ingram
 ran it in from 11 yards out for the final score.
 
 It has been a good week for New Orleans both on and off the field.
 
 Earlier  this week,  former  NFL commissioner  Paul Tagliabue  overturned  the
 ruling of current  commissioner  Roger Goodell  regarding the  suspensions  of
 several players involved in the NFL bounty scandal.
 
 Current  Saints  defensive players  Jonathan Vilma and  Will Smith, along with
 Browns  linebacker  Scott Fujita  and  free  agent defensive  lineman  Anthony
 Hargrove,  were all  suspended in  May for  roles in  the bounty  program from
 2009-2011.
 
 Vilma   had  been  suspended  for  the  entire  2012  season,  while  Hargrove
 was  originally  given an eight-game penalty.  Smith was banned for four games
 and Fujita was slapped with a three-game suspension.
 
 The  suspensions  were overturned by  an appeals  panel in September, then re-
 issued  by Goodell  -- with slight modifications -- in October. Another appeal
 led  to  Tagliabue's appointment,  and he decided  to overturn the suspensions
 after reviewing the case.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 The  Saints completed their  first series sweep of the Bucs since 2006 ... New
 Orleans  posted its first  shutout since beating the Jets 12-0 in 1995 ... The
 Bucs haven't made the playoffs since 2007 ... Since 2002, only eight of the 22
 games between the two clubs have been decided by more than one touchdown.
 
 12/16 20:29:15 ET

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