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Saints offense remains missing in action in sloppy loss to Buccaneers

Drew Brees throws three picks in a game that was riddled with mistakes and penalties, and the Saints lose.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints likely find themselves in a prime position to start making plans to book their tee times in January, as they dropped a close one to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-11 to fall to 5-8.

We could probably just ignore the first quarter, as it was all Buccaneers. The Saints had two 3-and-outs, and were outgained 116-11 after holding the ball for just 3:30. It was their lowest total since 2006. The Bucs would punch in a touchdown to go ahead 10-0 early in the second quarter thanks to a Doug Martin rushing touchdown.

Just when the Saints caught a little momentum, Drew Brees would be picked off on a tipped pass while looking for Coby Fleener with four Bucs defenders standing there. Even on the defensive side when Jairus Byrd forced a fumble on Mike Evans, it’d be overturned after a second look deemed he was down. The Bucs would cash in on another Roberto Aguayo field goal to pull ahead 13-0.

Willie Snead would turn in some heroics on the next offensive drive to help get the Saints on the board to cut the lead to 13-3 with 5:29 left in the half. A Saints-like blunder on special teams by the Bucs’ Josh Huff would put the Bucs offense starting at their own 1-yard line, and Paul Kruger would stuff Martin for a safety to make it 13-5. It was the first safety in nearly two years, as the last one coincidentally came against the Bucs in Week 17 of 2014. In fact, their last three safeties came against the Bucs.

The Buccaneers would continue their best Saints imitation on special teams, as their punter would boot the ball out of bounds to put it at midfield after the free kick. The Saints would gamble on a 4th and 1 after Brees would keep and leap over the pile, and after Mark Ingram set the Saints up at their own 1-yard line, predictable disaster struck.

First, it would be a false start penalty on offensive lineman Tony Hills. Then, Travaris Cadet would drop a sure touchdown. Finally, Brees would be sacked. Luckily, Lutz converted a 34-yard field goal to trim the lead to 13-8. Clearly, it could have and should have been a touchdown.

On the opening drive of the second half, flag fest continued as the Saints reached 11 penalties for 89 yards and were forced to punt after a decent drive. The defense would do their job to get the ball back, and Nick Fairley would earn another $250,000 after getting a sack on Jameis Winston.

The offense would be in business after a big 38-yard connection to to Brandin Cooks from Brees, and the drive ended with with a Wil Lutz field goal after a ruled Cooks touchdown catch was overturned to cut the lead to 13-11 late in the third quarter. The Bucs responded with a drive of their own, but the Saints defense bent but not broke as they only gave up another field goal to extend their lead to 16-11.

The Saints were driving on their next possession, but Brees would force a pass to Brandon Coleman that would be tipped and fall into the hands of Brent Grimes. It didn’t help that the Saints were down to just one timeout either. However, the defense would once again do their part after Cameron Jordan and Vonn Bell would combine to sack Winston.

With the offense starting on their own 1-yard line, they couldn’t convert a short 3rd and 2 and would have to punt back to the Bucs with 5:54 left in the game. Dennis Allen’s defense once again did what they needed to do to give the Saints offense back the ball, with less than two minutes to go. Brees and company drove down the field, and when it mattered most on a 4th and 1, Brees threw his third interception of the day.