A chipper Jonathan Vilma gave Saints’ struggling defense an emotional lift, while Drew Brees did the rest for the suddenly resurgent New Orleans Saints.
Vilma played for the 1st time while appealing a season-long suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program, finishing with one QB hit but no tackles in a 35-28 triumph over the Buccaneers.
While it’s debatable how much Vilma’s play impacted the defense, the Saints stopped 2 threats near the end zone in the second half, including the last drive of the game to save New Orleans’ 2nd consecutive win.
Brees, meanwhile, continued the stellar play the Saints (2-4) are counting on getting from him to turn their season around following an 0-4 start.
Brees extended his NFL record for uninterrupted games with at least one TD pass to 49, while leading long scoring drives on 4 straight possessions to turn a 14-point deficit into a 28-21 halftime lead.
The Saints (2-4) barely had the ball in the 3rd quarter, but made use of Tampa Bay’s lack of ability to get into the end zone when Brees put together a 12-play, 95-yard march that Pierre Thomas finished with a 5-yard TD run that made it 35-21 with just over 13 minutes remaining in the game.
Brees threw TD passes of 17 yards to Marques Colston, 9 yards to Darren Sproles, 48 yards to Joseph Morgan and 20 yards to David Thomas to overcome the Saints defense yielding 513 yards. He has thrown for 3 or more touchdowns in 5 of 6 games this season.
”We wish to get on a streak here. You need to win more than one before you’re on a streak,” Brees claimed. ”So now we’ve got 2, and we wish to keep that going.” Baseball betting lines
Josh Freeman threw for a career-high 420 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Bucs (2-4), who scored on their 1st three possessions of the game to build a 21-7 lead. Dallas Clark’s 3-yard scoring reception trimmed Tampa Bay’s deficit to 35-28 with 4 minutes left, and Freeman finished 2 passes to Vincent Jackson to help the Bucs get into position to probably force overtime.
Jackson had 7 receptions for 216 yards, but didn’t score on a 95-yard play in which safety Malcolm Jenkins ran him down to make the tackle at the Tampa Bay One. LeGarrette Blount was stopped for no gain on 3 straight runs, and then Freeman lost 4 yards on a quarterback keeper on 4th down.
Brees launched the Saints’ final scoring drive from there. He also led TD drives of 80, 80, 79 and 72 on successive possessions in the opening half.
Vilma pressured Freeman on an incompletion that was almost intercepted by Roman Harper, and got his hands on another pass that he tipped 1st with his right hand and then his left before it dropped incomplete.
”Having him back just, emotionally, really made a difference in this game,” interim Saints coach Aaron Kromer said. ”We were trying to get him in certain packages, and we had 2 linebackers go down early in the game.”