Saints march over Bucs

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (right) hauls in a touchdown as he is defended by...

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (right) hauls in a touchdown as he is defended by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Elbert Mack on Sunday at the Superdome. (Reuters)

Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:51 PM ET

A week ago the New Orleans Saints were looking for a place to hide.

That’s how a team feels when it gets smoked 31-21 by the previously winless St. Louis Rams.

On a day when the Saints were looking for redemption they found it in the Superdome in a key divisional matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Saints responded to their embarrassment in St. Louis by unveiling a longtime buried ground game that chewed up 195 yards and caused confusion on what can only be described as an overmatched and porous Bucs defence.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw in his usual A-plus passing game and it all added up to a convincing 27-16 victory.

The score actually was flattering to the Buccaneers who allowed plenty of big plays and few stops.

With the win, the Saints improved to 6-3 in the NFC South and stayed a half game ahead of the improving Atlanta Falcons, who moved to 5-3 with an easy 31-7 victory over the 0-9 Indianapolis Colts.

The loss dropped the Bucs to 4-4 and into third spot in the division and put a severe dent in their playoff hopes.

Brees passed for 258 yards and two touchdowns and moved his team at will.

His first TD pass, to Lance Moore in the opening quarter, put him in a tie with Brett Favre for throwing TD passes in 36 consecutive games. Both quarterbacks trail the legendary Johnny Unitas, who holds the record of throwing a TD pass in 47 consecutive games.

On the day Brees was good on 27 of 36 passes which extended his NFL record of consecutive games with 20-plus completions to 29.

Brees went into this game knowing that the Saints had a lot to prove, that they have been a wildly inconsistent team having dropped two of their past three games including a 26-20 loss to the Bucs three weeks ago.

They entered the game in first place but could not be ranked among the elite in the league, not off their play.

“Not right now, we haven’t proven it,” Brees said earlier in the week. “I believe we have the ability to be, but we haven’t proven it, yet. We’ve got to win games like the one last week (against St. Louis). We have to be able to put together good performances consistently and show that we can win in a lot of different ways; that we can win when maybe, hey, we just don’t have our best stuff; we can win when we’re a little bit banged up; we can win with offence, we can win with defence, we can win with special teams. But no matter what the situation or whatever we encounter, just find a way. And when I look at us over the last three years, I feel like we’ve been very good at that.

“I feel like we have all the pieces in place. And when we do play well, we play extremely well. We just need that to be on a more consistent basis.”

In first half the Saints carved up the Tampa defence for 288 total yards. The Saints had six possessions which resulted in two touchdowns, two field goals, one missed field goal and one punt.

New Orleans came out and established a running game which opened things up for Brees and he took full advantage.

The Saints came back to make a game of it in the fourth quarter with 10 unanswered points to close to 24-16 with 5:33 to play.

But Brees and the Saints, starting from their own 20, moved relentlessly down the field to the Tampa 17 when with 1:17 to play, John Karsay clinched it with a 34-yard field goal.

The Bucs, meanwhile, have much work to do.

Coming into the game off a bye week, they were soft on defence and undisciplined on both sides of the ball as they constantly shot themselves in the foot with stupid, foolish penalties.

The Bucs can’t match the Saints firepower and need to play in a tough, disciplined manner to hold off New Orleans as they did three weeks previous in Tampa Bay.

The loss also means the Bucs face must-win situations the next two weeks when they first play host to Houston and follow that up with a game at Green Bay.

The Saints, meanwhile, travel to Atlanta next week for a showdown with the Falcons, the first of two games between the two.

BAD, BAD BROWNS

At 0-9 the Indianapolis Colts have the worst record in the NFL but right now they may not be the worst team.

That particular honour may have to go to the hapless Cleveland Browns who were run over 30-12 by the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.

Yes, we know the Browns have won three games, including a Week 2 27-19 victory over the Colts, but that was then and over the past three weeks they are pushing the Colts for the distinction of being the absolute worst.

For the past three games the Browns have been dreadful on offence, showing no spark whatsoever and have scored just one touchdown in those three games where they managed to go 1-2, the win being a 6-3 embarrassment over the Seattle Seahawks.

The Browns totalled all of 172 total yards against the Texans who boasted two running backs who posted 100-plus yards days. Arian Foster rushed for 124 yards while teammate Ben Tate added another 115 yards on the ground. Before the day was out the Texans rumbled for 261 rushing yards to set a franchise record.

Last year, rookie quarterback Colt McCoy came on late in the season and provided some offensive spark but this year he has shown nothing and it would be no surprise if the Browns went quarterback hunting once more in this year’s draft.

McCoy completed just 14 passes for 146 yards, was sacked four times and also threw an interception, his sixth of the season. On the day he led his team to all of 10 first downs.

“They were able to create a lot of pressure up front,” McCoy said of the Texans. “At times, it was hard to overcome.”

How about never?


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