The Saints (4-2) dominated the Buccaneers (3-2) Sunday afternoon by a 31-6 score in Raymond James Stadium.
New Orleans outgained Tampa in net yards by a 475-277 margin, including a 212-42 edge in rushing.
QB Drew Brees completed 21 of 32 attempts for 263 yards and tied a season-best three touchdowns for a 109.2 quarterback rating.
Rookie RB Chris Ivory rushed for a Saints season-best 158 yards on 15 carries (10.5 avg.). The 158 yards are the most by a Saint since former Saint Deuce McAllister totaled 165 yards at Washington on Nov. 30, 2003. It was the most by a first-year Saint since former Saint Ricky Williams totaled 179 yards against Cleveland on Halloween in 1999.
New Saints RB Julius Jones posted 32 yards on nine carries.
Brees connected with 10 teammates led by WR Rober Meachem who totaled 71 yards receiving on four grabs including a 42-yard touchdown. WR Lance Moore contributed 57 yards receiving on two catches, highlighted by a 41-yard score. WR Marques Colston had a team-best five receptions for 53 yards.
S Roman Harper led a strong Saints defensive effort with seven tackles and two forced fumbles. S Malcolm Jenkins notched six tackles and Danny Clark chipped in with five. LB Marvn Mitchell posted five tackles, a fumbled recovery and a forced fumble. The Saints defense denied the Buccaneers on nine of their 15 third down attempts.
“Obviously we played well and I thought our guys had a good week of work and preparation was evident,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “It was nice to come out and get a division win like that."
New Orleans went out on defense first in the contest. The Buccaneers would not get past the their own 40-yard line before P Robert Malone was forced to punt. However in his first NFL punt, Malone booted a 54-yarder that was downed at the New Orleans six-yard line.
On their first offensive play from scrimmage, Ivory, who got the start, cut back and gained 18 yards. On the next first down play, Betts barreled through the middle for a gain of four yards.
On second and six, Ivory took the ball and gained seven yards to the 35-yard line for another first down. After three straight running plays, Brees completed a pass to Meachem down the left sideline for a pickup of 12 yards.
New Orleans then moved into Tampa Bay territory at their 37-yard line on a 16-yard completion to WR Lance Moore. On first down, Brees completed a six-yard pass to TE David Thomas.
On second down, G Jahri Evans was called for false start penalty and then the Saints were penalized with delay of game to move them back to the 41, but that only set up more yardage for a completion for a touchdown to Moore of the same amount giving the Saints a 7-0 lead. This wrapped up a seven-play, 94-yard scoring drive, New Orleans’ longest of the season.
When Tampa Bay got the ball back they could only get to the New Orleans 45-yard line and Malone’s second punt went into the end zone to give the Saints the ball back at their 20.
New Orleans went right back on the attack as Brees found Colston for a ten-yard gain. On the next two downs, Ivory carried for six and two yards. On third and two, Brees handed off to Betts, who carried for three yards and the first down.
Brees then found Thomas and Colston for subsequent passes for a first down in Tampa Bay territory at their 45. After a false start penalty against T Jon Stinchcomb, the first quarter came to a close. With the start of the second quarter, the Saints offense would continue to be on first though, as on a third-and-seven play Brees found Meachem in the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown.
Tampa Bay would get the ball back at the Tampa Bay 22 and would convert one first down on a pass by QB Josh Freeman and two runs by RB Cadillac Williams, but a false start penalty on the Bucs would bring them back to the 29-yard line. Freeman completed a nine-yard pass to WR Sammie Stroughter.
On second and six, Freeman completed a five-yard pass to TE John Gilmore. On third and one, Williams carried and the run that needed a measurement was for a gain of one to give Tampa Bay a first down. However the Buccaneers would fail to execute again and they were forced to punt for the third straight time.
With starting field position at the 13-yard line, Brees was unable to complete two straight passes before he hit TE Jimmy Graham for his first NFL catch on a screen for an 11-yard gain. Ivory then carried for 33 yards, the longest rush by a Saint this season to move to the Tampa Bay 43-yard line.
On first down, he gained four more yards to the 39. On second-and-six, Ivory, carried a third straight time for eight more yards and the first down. The Saints went over the 100-yard mark for the first half along as Julius Jones made his first carry for a Saint and had a 16-yard gain to the New Orleans 15. Jones carried for one yard on first down. On second-and-nine, Brees completed a four-yard pass to Thomas. However, New Orleans was unable to convert on third down and had to settle for a 27-ayrd field goal by K Garrett Hartley.
Tampa Bay took the ball back and drove into New Orleans territory, but they could only get up to the 22-yard line and K Connor Barth’s 40-yard field goal attempt hit the upright as the Bucs would come away empty. Previously Barth had made 12 consecutive field goals.
Brees immediately got the Saints on the field with less than two minutes remaining and completed a 12-yard pass to TE Jeremy Shockey to get the Saints to their 43-yard line. On second and ten, he completed a nine-yard pass to Shockey.
On third and one, Brees kept the ball to get New Orleans the first down at the Tampa Bay 46-yard line. Following a timeout and a first down incompletion, Brees tried a long throw to Moore that he couldn’t catch up to in tight coverage. On third and ten, Brees completed a 13-yard pass to Colston to move New Orleans up to Tampa Bay’s 33-yard line.
On first down, Brees threw a pass down the middle that was tipped by Buccaneers LB Quincy Black, picked off by S Cody Grimm, who then lateraled to S Sean Jones, who returned it to the Tampa Bay 36-yard line. However, the Buccaneers would take a knee for the end of the half.
New Orleans took the ball in the second half and started at the eight-yard line. Brees found Ivory for a 17-yard gain on a screen pass. On the next first down, Jones carried for three yards and then for a loss of one. On third down and eight, Brees hit Colston on a crossing pattern where he advanced to the 42 yard line for a 16-yard gain. On first down, Brees handed off to Ivory, who gained 11 yards. On his next carry, he gained nine yards to go over the 100-yard mark.
On the next carry, Jones carried for a seven-yard gain. On second and three, Brees found Meachem for a 12-yard gain into the red zone. On the next first down, he went to Meachem again for a five-yard gain to the 13. On second and five, Brees had completed a pass to Thomas into the end zone, but the tight end was called by the officials for offensive pass interference. On second and 16 from the 23, Betts got eight yards back to move back inside the 20. On third and eight, Shockey dropped a pass in the end zone, which brought Hartley onto the field to kick, where he missed a 33-yard field goal attempt.
The Buccaneers would take the ball back at their 23-yard line. They would drive into New Orleans territory, but on a second and ten play, Harper forced Tampa Bay RB Cadillac Williams to cough up the ball and it was recovered Mitchell for New Orleans’ first turnover of the day.
New Orleans would take advantage of the turnover and the short field and on a mix of runs and short passes, Brees engineered an eight-play 46-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass to FB Heath Evans to give New Orleans a 24-0 lead.
Tampa Bay took the ball back after the kickoff at their 21-yard line. The Buccaneers advanced to the New Orleans 45, but were faced with a fourth and five where they decided to go for it and Freeman completed an 11-yard pass to Gilmore for an 11-yuard gain. Freeman then completed a five-yard pass to Winslow to the New Orleans 29-yard line. Freeman had a second down pass ruled as an incomplete pass following a review after it had been initially been called as a reception by Stroughter, with a forced fumble by S Malcolm Jenkins and recovery. On third and five, a pass intended for Williams was ruled incomplete and the Buccaneers kicking unit came out on fourth down where Barth had a 47-yard field goal attempt hit the upright.
The Saints would fail to convert a first down on their time on the field and Thomas Morstead punted for the first time of the day, a 46-yard punt that was downed at the Tampa Bay 12-yard line by LB Stanley Arnoux.
On their first play, Williams ran for 15 yards, but on second down, S Malcolm Jenkins broke up a pass intended for TE Kellen Winslow Jr. On second down, Freeman completed a six-yard pass to Winslow.
On third down, Freeman completed a pass to Winslow, with a fumble forced by Mitchell, but recovered by Buccaneers tackle Jeremy Trueblood with enough for the first down. With a fresh first down, Freeman completed a 13-yard pass to Williams that he advanced to midfield. Freeman threw two straight incompletions. Freeman scrambled on third down to the 47-yard line, but New Orleans was called for a pair of personal foul penalties on Jenkins to move Tampa Bay to the New Orleans 17-yard line.
Freeman would then complete short passes to Winslow and Williams to move the Buccaneers to the New Orleans two-yard line. On first down, Tampa Bay’s leading rusher was stopped one-yard shot of the goal line and on second down he was stopped by Jenkins for a one-yard loss. On third and goal at the two, Freeman kept and was taken down by Mitchell for no gain.
With the Buccaneers going for it on fourth down, Freeman completed a two-yard pass to Tampa Bay WR Michael Spurlock to finally put Tampa Bay on the board, although the two-point conversion failed.
Tampa Bay subsequently attempted an onside kick, which was recovered by New Orleans. Ivory proceeded to rip up a 27-yard run to pass the 150-yard mark. New Orleans would eventually advance to the one-yard line where RB Betts scored his first touchdown as a Saint.