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(Sunday, December 27th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 20, New Orleans 17 (OT)
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Connor Barth's 47-yard field goal in overtime capped a rally from a 17-point deficit and lifted Tampa Bay over New Orleans, 20-17, at the Superdome.
Josh Freeman finished 21-of-31 for 271 yards and two interceptions for the Buccaneers (3-12), who have won two in a row. Cadillac Williams led all rushers with 129 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries while Michael Spurlock tied the game late in the fourth quarter with a 77-yard punt return for a score.
Drew Brees threw for 258 yards and a TD on 32-of-37 passing for the Saints (13-2), who have dropped their last two games and could have wrapped up the top seed in the NFC with a victory.
Pierre Thomas had 60 yards and a score on the ground with six rushes and Robert Meachem added five receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown in defeat.
Tampa Bay won the coin toss in overtime and did not relinquish control. Starting from its own 23, Williams got the ball on nine of the first 10 plays, gaining 40 yards. He picked up two first downs by himself on the winning drive, and his two-yard dash on 3rd-and-6 from the Saints' 31 set up Barth's game-deciding boot.
The Saints completed their first drive of the contest with the game's first points, going up 7-0 after Thomas rumbled up the middle for an eight-yard score.
Darren Sharper picked off Freeman in Saints' territory on Tampa's next series, and six plays later Brees hit Meachem for a 30-yard TD and 14-0 game.
Garrett Hartley then drilled a 28-yard field goal for a 17-0 contest with 6:39 left in the second quarter to cap a 10-play, 83-yard march for New Orleans.
Barth hit a 34-yarder on the final play of the half to put the Bucs on the board, then neither team tallied in the third quarter.
Williams' 23-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter ended a 98-yard drive and brought Tampa Bay within 17-10, and Marques Colston was stripped on the Saints' next series, giving the Bucs the ball on their own 39 after Ronde Barber recovered.
However, the visitors couldn't pick up a first down on 3rd-and-1 or 4th-and- inches from the New Orleans 19 and turned the ball over on downs with just under five minutes remaining.
New Orleans then had a 4th-and-1 from its own 40 derailed by a false start penalty, and on the ensuing punt, Spurlock raced 77 yards for the tying touchdown with 2:25 to play.
The Saints reached Tampa's 19 in the final seconds, but Hartley hooked his 37- yard attempt wide left with five seconds on the clock.
Tampa Bay has won four of the last six meetings...Colston's first of his eight receptions in the contest put him over the 1,000 yard mark for the third time in four seasons...Sharper's INT return gave him 376 return yards from interceptions in 2009, breaking the single season record for return yardage, first set by Baltimore's Ed Reed in 2004...He also tied Hall-of-Fame safety Ronnie Lott for sixth on the all-time list with 63 picks.
12/27 16:52:34 ET
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