The Saints have tasted defeated for the second straight week falling to Tampa in over time 20-17 after kicker Garrett Hartley missed a chip shot field goal with nine seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans again could have sewn up home field advantage with a win, but again the offense struggled mightily as the defense crumbled against a sub-par offense.
In their first three possessions New Orleans scored seventeen un-answered points, turning the game into what looked to be a blow out.
Tampa Bay would score a field goal before the half and the Saints re-treated into the locker room with a two score lead.
That’s about where the good news ends for New Orleans.
The Saints clung to their fourteen point lead for the most of the second half until the Buccaneers took possession at 2:23 of the third quarter and began to drive down the field.
Ninety-Eight yards later the Bucs were in the end-zone after running back Cadillac Williams scampered in from twenty-three yards out.
New Orleans now had a one touchdown lead on the surging Buccaneers.
The next offensive possession would not go well for Drew and the Saints, after moving the ball only twenty-four yards in a little over four minutes Colston caught a fourteen yard pass then fumbled when tackled by linebacker Geno Hayes, corner back Ronde Barber recovered the fumble on the Saints forty-five yard line.
Tampa Bay would move the ball twenty yards down to the nineteen yard line before being stuffed on two consecutive plays.
On third and one Williams tried to sneak around the right side for the first down but was met by Jonathan Vilma and Remi Ayodele for no gain.
The following fourth and one play was a play action boot leg to the right, defensive end Charles Grant came up with the stop when he swatted down Freeman’s pass intended for Earnest Graham.
New Orleans would take over on downs and with 4:57 remaining needed only to pick up a few first downs to run out the clock and secure the game, unfortunately that’s exactly what didn’t happen and instead the Saints were forced to punt.
That necessarily wouldn’t have been that bad but Tampa’s Matt Spurlock would field the punt and proceed to return it 77 yards for the touchdown to tie the game at seventeen all.
New Orleans would take over yet again with 2:25 remaining and would have one last chance to make it in to field goal range to win it in regulation.
Brees was accurate with his throws carrying the Saints from their own twenty six yard line all the way down to the Tampa nineteen yard line, Hartley lined up for the chip-shot field goal to win the game but booted it wide left forcing overtime.
Tampa won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball, as any team would, which essentially spelled disaster as the Saints had been unable to get the Bucs offense off the field the entire second half of the game.
To make a long story short Freeman drove his team down to the Saints twenty-nine yard line before handing the raines over to kicker Connor Barth, and unlike Hartley before him, nailed his 47 yard field goal giving the Bucs the win.
New Orleans in recent weeks has not looked like the team it was at beggining of the season that was dominating it’s oppositon on both sides of the ball, offensively they have been unable to convert third down and defensively have given up a ton of yards, not a winning combination.
Payton and Loomis better find a way to right the ship, with play-offs right around the corner this quality of play will not fare well against more elite teams.
The Saints still have a chance to capture home field advantage if the Vikings lose any one of their next two games or if they can find a way to beat the Carolina Panthers next week.
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