It wasn’t pretty for much of the first half, but all that matters is the score when time expires and the New Orleans Saints (11-2) were able to clinch the NFC South division title thanks to a second half rally, coming away with a 28-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8).
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started things off with a quick march down the field that was capped off by an 11-yard pass from Jameis Winston to Cameron Brate to take an early lead. It would remain that way until Wil Lutz drilled a 30-yard field goal to get on the board with 7:06 left until halftime. The Buccaneers increased their lead just before the first half wrapped up when Winston found Brate in the endzone on a one-yard pass, making it 14-3 at the break.
The second half started out horribly for New Orleans with Drew Brees coughing up the football on the second play, giving the Bucs great field position. However, they came up empty after Cairo Santos missed his second field goal attempt of the afternoon.
The Saints needed a big boost if they wanted to avoid a second straight loss on Sunday and they got that halfway through the third quarter when Taysom Hill blocked a punt, giving the Saints the football at the Bucs 30-yard line. Five plays later, Brees found Zach Line with a short pass to make it 14-11 after a successful two-point conversion from Alvin Kamara.
Brees gave the Saints the lead early in the fourth quarter when he performed his classic leap past the goal line to take an 18-14 lead with 11:46 left on the clock. Later in the fourth quarter, Mark Ingram officially put the game out of reach with a 17-yard touchdown run that saw him drag a defender into the endzone to make it an 11-point ballgame.
The Saints will return to action next Monday when they travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers (6-7) with kickoff set for 7:20 pm.