Saints embarrass Bucs in 41-0 thrashing
Roy Cummings, The Tampa Tribune, published 17 December 2012

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a chance to even their season record Sunday and get back in the playoff race with a visit to the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. What they got was something entirely different.

The Saints crushed the Bucs, 41-0, helped by a horrendous day from Josh Freeman. The Bucs QB threw four interceptions and lost one fumble against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Meanwhile, Saints QB Drew Brees was steady and efficient, completing 26 of 39 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns against a beleaguered Bucs secondary. The Bucs (6-8) entered the day with seven losses, but none by worse than eight points in the first year of new coach Greg Schiano's tenure. It was clear early on that statistic was going to be in trouble.

Already ahead 24-0 to start the third quarter, Brees found WR Joe Morgan for a 34-yard touchdown strike down the left sideline for a 31-0 lead just four minutes into the second half. In the fourth quarter the Saints (6-8) tacked on a 36-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley for a 34-0 edge 8:09 to go.

Even seldom-used RB Mark Ingram got into the act for New Orleans, scoring from 11 yards out for a 41-0 lead with 4:54 left. Things got so bad that the Bucs chose to insert backup QB Dan Orlovsky in the closing minutes, and he nearly led them to their only points before time expired.

The first half, simply, was a nightmare for the Bucs. Two interceptions from Freeman and precision play from his counterpart Brees put Tampa Bay in a huge hole. New Orleans wasted little time getting ahead, taking the opening kickoff and marching 84 yards in seven plays, capped by Brees finding TE David Thomas for a 9-yard score with 11:12 to play in the first quarter.

The Bucs responded with a lengthy drive of their own, but Freeman was intercepted by Jabari Greer at the New Orleans 16-yard line. Brees led New Orleans on another drive which culminated in a 25-yard Hartley field goal and a 10-0 early in the second quarter.

The Bucs put together another scoring threat, but Freeman was again picked off, this time by Rafael Bush, who returned the interception from the New Orleans 10-yard line to midfield. The Saints capitalized as Brees found RB Darren Sproles for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 4:57 left in the first half.

After again stopping the Bucs, New Orleans drove again, and Brees hit WR Lance Moore for a 7-yard touchdown with just 9 seconds left in the half for a 24-0 edge. The Bucs close out their home schedule Sunday as they entertain the St. Louis Rams at 1 p.m.