NEW ORLEANS (CBS) The only team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Sunday afternoon were themselves. The self-inflicted mistakes cost the team 80 yards on nine penalties in a 27-16 win for the New Orleans Saints.
Wins have been hard to come by for the Bucs lately (4-4), who suffered their third defeat in four games and fell to third in the NFC South. To make matters worse, Gerald McCoy is out for the season with a torn right bicep.
Drew Brees and Josh Freeman went head-to-head on Sunday, but Brees bounced back after a surprising loss against a winless St. Louis Rams team a week before and threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns.
Freeman struggled to find his accuracy early on, and didn’t reach the endzone until late in the fourth quarter when he hit Kellen Winslow for the Bucs’ first touchdown.
Despite an injured Jonathan Vilma and an injury to Saints cornerback Tracy Porter early in the game, New Orleans contained Tampa Bay both on the ground and in the air.
The same can’t be said for the Buccaneers’ defense. They gave up a total of 453 yards, and 175 of those yards came from the Saints’ rushing attack. Darren Sproles, Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas provided the offensive stability on the ground, and Tampa Bay could not keep pace.
Coach Raheem Morris won’t accept the excuse of a young team to compensate for the mistakes his team made. From LeGarrette Blount’s senseless personal foul to Freeman’s inability to hit open receivers, it was an average game played by an average team.
Center Jeff Faine explained it best to reporters after the game. “(Youth) is not an excuse,” Faine said. “All these guys have been playing football their whole lives. We know what the rules are.”