NFL Wire News

Saints 23, Buccaneers 20


TAMPA, Fla. — The only thing at stake at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ shot at the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

All the Bucs had to do was the same thing they’d done all year at home: lose.

Tampa Bay did just that, watching a 13-point lead evaporate as the New Orleans Saints won 23-20 at Raymond James Stadium.

By completing their first winless home slate since 1976, the Bucs secured the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Bucs and Tennessee Titans both finished the regular season with a 2-14 record, but Tampa Bay will pick first as a result of its strength of schedule.

With that, the Bucs are on the clock. This will be their first No. 1 overall pick since 1987, when they selected quarterback Vinny Testaverde.

The Saints, eliminated from playoff contention last week, managed to finish their season on an upbeat note as they scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and finished 7-9 on the year.

Quarterback Drew Brees completed 24 of 38 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown.

The Bucs ran for 183 yards on the day, with Doug Martin (108 yards) and rookie Charles Sims (69 yards) leading the way.

Within the first two plays of the game, Tampa Bay’s top two receivers — Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson — became the first duo in franchise history to each pass the 1,000-yard mark on the season.

Evans recorded his 12th touchdown reception, setting a single-season franchise record, in the second quarter.

That score gave the Bucs a 10-point lead, but the Saints bounced back with a 1-yard touchdown run by Khiry Robinson.

Tampa Bay responded quickly, as Sims dashed in from 8 yards out for the first career touchdown.

Brees threw the first of three interceptions on the following drive, giving the Bucs enough time to set up a 27-yard field goal by Patrick Murray just before halftime.

Brees threw two more interceptions in the third quarter but recovered down the stretch.

New Orleans running back Mark Ingram plunged in from 1 yard out to begin the fourth quarter, and Bucs quarterback Josh McCown set up the Saints’ last score with an interception that bounced out of receiver Tavarres King’s hands.

Brees then led a seven-play drive capped off by his 36-yard touchdown pass to receiver Marques Colston.

Saints linebacker Junior Galette sacked McCown in the end zone for a safety on the Bucs’ next drive.

NOTES: Bucs LB Mason Foster (Achilles) was inactive. T Anthony Collins was a healthy scratch for the third straight game for Tampa Bay … Saints S Kenny Vaccaro was inactive despite reportedly practicing all week. … Bucs CB Leonard Johnson and S Bradley McDougald each recorded their first interception. … WR Vincent Jackson, who left in the first quarter with a groin injury, tallied 1,002 yards on the year, his fourth straight 1,000-yard season.

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