The Saints extended their winning streak to six when Drew Brees completed 81.2 percent of his passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-10 victory over reeling Tampa Bay on Sunday.
The Buccaneers came in hoping to stem a four-game skid, but instead were not just beaten, but beaten up. Quarterback Jameis Winston left with shoulder soreness after the first half. Starting defensive end William Gholston was carted off the field with a neck injury. And tensions boiled over when Winston, after he had left the game, appeared to instigate a scuffle along the sideline.
Brees’ touchdowns went for 33 yards to Alvin Kamara and 36 yards to Ted Ginn. Kamara, who also scored on a 6-yard run, did most of the work on his TD reception, thrilling the Superdome crowd with a waving, tackle-slipping run after his short catch.
The Saints also scored on Justin Hardee’s blocked punt, which Hardee recovered in stride and returned for a touchdown.
Kamara finished with 172 yards from scrimmage, including six catches for 84 yards.
New Orleans’ defense limited the Buccaneers’ standout receiving tandem of Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson to three catches for 38 yards. Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who also was involved in the sideline scuffle, blanketed Evans much of the game. New Orleans also got pressure in the backfield, finishing with four sacks. Cameron Jordan had 1 1-2 sacks.
The scuffle erupted in the third quarter and appeared to be ignited when Winston vigorously pressed his finger into the back of Lattimore’s helmet during a dead-ball period between a failed third-down pass and a punt. Lattimore turned and shoved Winston, after which receiver Mike Evans leveled Lattimore from behind. Saints defensive back De’Vante Harris then came charging into the melee to defend Lattimore. As the scuffle was broken up, Saints coach Sean Payton marched halfway across the field, gesturing angrily at the Tampa Bay bench before officials chased him back to the Saints’ sideline.
The score was 30-3 at the time. Evans was called for unnecessary roughness. There were no ejections.
Hardee’s touchdown came on the first of two blocks on consecutive snaps.
First, Hardee came in clean up the middle for a smothering block on punter Bryan Anger. The ball then bounced high and behind Anger, allowing Hardee to run under it practically in stride and glide into the end zone.
Then the Bucs’ Ryan Smith blocked Wil Lutz’ extra point, leaving New Orleans with a 9-0 lead in the first quarter.
Lutz also missed a field goal from 43 yards. Bucs kicker Patrick Murray missed from 54 yards.
Buccaneers: In addition to Winston’s and Gholston’s injuries, left tackle Donovan Smith went out with a knee injury.
Saints: Left tackle Terron Armstead took himself out of the game with a chest injury late in the first half. In the third quarter, the Saints announced safety Kenny Vaccaro was out with a groin injury.
Buccaneers: Host the New York Jets on Sunday.
Saints: Visit the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.