RECAP: New Orleans put together an 86-yard drive, five runs and four passes, to take a 7-0 lead with 1:39 left. Deuce McAllister had only 4 yards on four carries and one catch for 8 yards on the drive. But fullback Lamar Smith gained 17 yards on a run up the middle, and Brooks connected on passes of 17 and 14 yards to Joe Horn before hitting Boo Williams for the 31-yard touchdown.
KEY PLAY: Facing first down at the Bucs 31, a breakdown in the Bucs secondary allowed Williams to roll to the right sideline uncovered. With little pressure on Brooks from the defensive front, he had time to find the tight end, who sneaked inside the right pylon just as safety Jermaine Phillips made contact.
DID YOU NOTICE: Thomas Jones made his first start for the Bucs at tailback. ... The Bucs defense was penalized on its second play, the offense on its fifth. ... Charles Lee gained 8 yards on a reverse to pick up an early first down. ... The Bucs have not scored on their first possession this season. ... Shaun King drew a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for going onto the field and talking to a Saints player. Instead of first and 10 at their 45, the Bucs faced first and 25 at their 30 and eventually punted. ... John Lynch left late with a reinjured shoulder.
RECAP: Three plays turned around the Bucs' offensive fortunes. The first was Aaron Brooks' fumble at the Tampa Bay 28 that Jermaine Phillips returned to the Saints 37. The second was an 8-yard run by Thomas Jones that, coupled with a 15-yard face mask, moved the ball to the Saints 14. The third was a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson to Ken Dilger to tie the score. Tampa Bay got a rare blocked punt from the special teams, with David Gibson breaking through the middle of the line to get a hand on Mitch Berger's kick. Ronde Barber scooped up the bouncing ball and returned it 20 yards to the Saints 1. Johnson hit an uncovered Warren Sapp for the touchdown on the next play, giving the Bucs a 14-7 halftime lead.
KEY PLAY: The Saints appeared poised to attempt at least a field goal (for a 10-0 lead) late, facing third down at the Bucs 28. But the ball slipped out of Brooks' hand on an attempted pass - one play after Joe Horn dropped a sure touchdown - and Phillips returned the fumble 20 yards to the New Orleans 37. The touchdown to Dilger came two plays later.
DID YOU NOTICE: Simeon Rice registered his 13th sack of the season, dropping Brooks for an 8-yard loss. He got his 14th later, dropping Brooks for a 6-yard loss and causing a fumble that New Orleans recovered. ... Berger appeared to have the Bucs pinned deep for the second time until two Saints wrestled for the ball at the 2 and pushed each other into the end zone for a touchback. ... A 10-yard reception to Charles Lee was negated when he was flagged for pass interference (pushing off). ... LeCharles Bentley cost the Saints 15 yards for pulling off Sapp's helmet by the face mask. ... A 14-yard reception by Walter Rasby was upheld after the Bucs argued he stepped out of bounds before the catch. The challenge cost the Bucs a timeout. ... The Bucs outscored New Orleans 14-0 despite having the ball just 3:43 to New Orleans' 11:17. The Saints nearly doubled Tampa Bay's yards in the half (216-113).
RECAP: New Orleans had an opportunity to cut into Tampa Bay's lead, starting at the Bucs 40 after a 27-yard punt return. But it couldn't move the ball beyond the 31, and John Carney's 49-yard field goal with 6:32 left went wide right. ... Tampa Bay returned the favor on its ensuing possession, driving to the New Orleans 25 before Martin Gramatica's 44-yard field goal drifted wide right. Brad Johnson completed passes of 10 and 13 yards to Michael Pittman and 11 yards to Keenan McCardell to help get within Gramatica's range.
KEY PLAY: The Saints were inside Bucs territory yet again, this time facing third and 8 at the 42. Brooks scrambled up the middle but fumbled after a hit by Derrick Brooks. Anthony McFarland recovered at the 30 during the final minute.
DID YOU NOTICE: How much do the Bucs miss Mike Alstott? Pittman was tackled for no gain on third and 1 from the Saints 32 then lost 2 yards on fourth down to waste one of Tampa Bay's best drives. ... Aaron Brooks overthrew a wide open Jerome Pathon one play after the Bucs' failed fourth-down attempt. ... Simeon Rice recorded his 15th sack of the season, holding Brooks to no gain on a scramble. ... A 27-yard reception by newly activated Edell Shepherd to the Saints 3 was wiped out by pass interference against Charles Lee. ... An 18-yard reverse by Lee later was negated by a hold against Kerry Jenkins.
RECAP: Martin Gramatica's second missed field goal, wide left and short from 35 yards, wasted a 75-yard drive that might have been one of Tampa Bay's best of the season. Passes of 35 and 11 yards to Keenan McCardell and 12 yards to Ken Dilger, coupled with a 13-yard run by Thomas Jones, helped the Bucs overcome a 15-yard penalty on Darian Barnes for a late hit. On fourth down from the Saints 16, Gramatica shanked the field goal, leaving the Saints within a touchdown. With no timeouts and 2:14 left, the Saints took over at their 25. But an 11-yard sack by Anthony McFarland put New Orleans in a hole, and Deuce McAllister was stopped 2 yards short by Derrick Brooks on fourth down to end New Orleans' last chance.
KEY PLAY: The Saints were in position to tie the score, facing second and goal at the Bucs 6 on a drive that started at the Bucs 34 after Brad Johnson was intercepted. But Aaron Brooks was sacked from behind by Greg Spires, fumbled, and Chartric Darby recovered at the 9. The offense then mounted its longest and most time-consuming drive of the game (5:57) to help seal the victory.
DID YOU NOTICE: The Bucs outgained the Saints (201-76) and held the ball longer (21:04-8:56) in the second half. ... Tampa Bay's only turnover came when Johnson's pass to Rickey Dudley was high and inside, and Dudley could only tip it with his right hand. Linebacker Orlando Ruff grabbed the rebound, and the Saints had their best starting field position of the game, the Tampa Bay 34. ... Best run-after-catch: McCardell, who kept his balance after a 6-yard catch and turned it into an 11-yard gain on third and 9 from the Tampa Bay 10. ... Barnes was penalized 15 yards for a late hit after a first-down run by Jones, pushing the Bucs from the Saints 30 to the 45.