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Series History: Bucs-Saints

Posted Dec 25, 2013

Starting with the first win in Buc history, the Saints have been involved in a number of key moments in Tampa Bay annals…On Sunday, the Bucs will look to snap New Orleans’ four-game streak

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New Orleans has opened some ground in a close series with the Bucs with four straight victories
  • Tampa Bay's first-ever win came against the Saints, as did some significant outings in 2001 and 2005
  • The Saints hold an overall edge of 26-17 in the head-to-head series
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ longest current drought in intra-divisional play is against the New Orleans Saints, a team they last beat in October of 2011.  The Saints’ four-game winning streak has increased their all-time lead in the head-to-head series to 26-17, but this is a series that has rarely seen stretches of dominance by either side.

And these are two teams that have had a lot of time to become acquainted.  The Buccaneers and Saints have obviously played twice a year since they became NFC South division mates in 2002, but the two teams had a fairly busy history against each other even before that.  In fact, Tampa Bay played New Orleans 20 times from 1976 through 2001, making the Saints its most frequent opponent outside of the now-defunct NFC Central division.

New Orleans won 13 of those first 20 games and did have its one run of total control during the Bucs’ dark days of the 1980s, winning six straight from 1983-89. However, the Buccaneers at one time led the series 1-0, and that "1" was hugely significant.  On December 11, 1977, Tampa Bay defeated the Saints 33-14 in New Orleans, thus ending a 26-game losing streak and recording its first-ever regular-season win.  The Buccaneers set a team single-game record in that victory that still stands today (though it was matched in the postseason in Super Bowl XXXVII), returning three interceptions for touchdowns.  The Bucs also beat the Saints in 1981 and 1982, both times in New Orleans and both times preceding a Tampa Bay trip to the playoffs.

The Bucs won the last two meetings between the teams before they both joined the NFC South, winning handily in both 1999 (31-16) and 2001 (48-21). Those were also playoff seasons for the Buccaneers.  However, when the South was formed in 2002, the Saints took what proved to be a surprising series sweep, given that Tampa Bay lost only four games that entire season and went on to win the Super Bowl.  New Orleans captured the season opener that September, 26-20 in overtime, in what was not only the Bucs' first game in their new division but also the first game under new Head Coach Jon Gruden.

The Buccaneers and Saints were totally even after the first 10 years of NFC South play, each winning 10 times.  The Bucs got sweeps in 2005 and 2007, and to continue the theme, in both cases made it to the postseason.  However, The Saints’ sweep last year and narrow win in Week Two of this season means Tampa Bay has some catching up to do.

- The Bucs' defense will look to post another big day against the Saints on Sunday
The Buccaneers and Saints have never played in the postseason, but they’ve had some pretty entertaining moments along the way.  One of the first ones was almost as unpredictable as Tampa Bay’s inaugural win in 1977.  Two years later, the Buccaneers were 5-1, having opened the ’79 season with five straight wins before a three-point loss at the New York Giants.  The 2-4 Saints came to town, and after a strange, scoreless first half, the Buccaneers scored three plays into the second half on a 49-yard Ricky Bell run followed by a 22-yard Isaac Hagins TD catch.  Looking good, right?  Well, sure, until the Saints scored a touchdown on each of their next six possessions, almost all of it coming on the ground.  New Orleans ended up running for 234 yards and five scores in a 42-14 blowout.  The Bucs would still rally to win the division that year.

Three years later, with both the Bucs and the Saints battling a crowded NFC playoff field in the 1982 season truncated by a players’ strike, Tampa Bay won by about a foot.  That’s the estimated distance that the great Morten Andersen missed a 60-yard field goal try at the end of a 13-10 Bucs decision in New Orleans, one in which former Raiders QB Kenny Stabler threw 43 times for 333 yards and a score.  The Bucs countered with S Neal Colzie, who recovered two fumbles, had a sack of Stabler and racked up 10 tackles.

The 1987 meeting between the two teams may not have had much in the way of playoff implications, but it did mark the first NFL start for QB Vinny Testaverde, the first overall pick in the ’87 draft.  The Saints were clearly going to the postseason and the Bucs were clearly not when the two teams met in December of that year, but it was still an important outing for the visiting team as it turned over the reins to its prized rookie.  Testaverde promptly threw for 369 yards – 212 of them to fellow rookie WR Mark Carrier – but the Bucs lost 44-34, in part because Testaverde lost fumbles on each of his team’s first two drives.

Ten years after his missed 60-yarder, Morten Andersen hit from 50 yards out to give New Orleans a 23-21 win in New Orleans in 1992.  The Bucs had taken the lead earlier in the fourth quarter on Reggie Cobb’s four-yard TD run, and had been in the game despite a struggling offense (309 Saints yards to the Bucs’ 154) thanks to LB Broderick Thomas’ 56-yard pick-six.  In 1996, a 13-7 win over the Saints in Tampa was part of the encouraging 5-2 finish to the season that preceded a long run of playoff campaigns.  Rookie FB Mike Alstott had one of his best games, catching seven passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, and the Bucs picked off Saints QB Jim Everett three times.

The Bucs and Saints were both 7-6 when they met two days before Christmas in 2001 (the season was pushed back by the 9/11 terrorist attacks), but this one didn’t seem like an even match of playoff hopefuls.  The Buccaneers completely dominated the game, beginning with Aaron Stecker’s 86-yard non-scoring kickoff return to open the action.  Stecker’s return set up a 14-yard touchdown catch by WR Karl Williams and began a Buc avalanche that led to a 30-0 lead and an eventual 48-21 victory.  Ronde Barber tied a team record by picking off three passes, returning one of them for a touchdown.

Amazingly, Barber would have another three-interception game against the Saints just four years later, in a game played at LSU’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge thanks to Hurricane Katrina.  The Bucs would need all of those takeaways to hold on to a 10-3 win in which the offense generated just 215 total yards.  The two teams met again in Tampa in the season finale, and the Buccaneers won again, 27-13, to take the NFC South crown.  The game was still in doubt inside the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, with the Saints near midfield and trailing 20-13.  That’s when DE Dewayne White sacked QB Todd Bouman, forced a fumble, recovered the loose ball and ran 34 yards for the clinching touchdown.

Bucs' Game-by-Game Record vs. New Orleans:

Year

Result

Site

1977

W, 33-14

New Orleans

1978

L,  17-10

Tampa

1979

L, 42-14

Tampa

1981

W, 31-14

New Orleans

1982

W, 13-10

New Orleans

1983

L,  24-21

Tampa

1984

L, 17-13

New Orleans

1985

L, 20-13

New Orleans

1986

L, 38-7

New Orleans

1987

L, 44-34

New Orleans

1988

L, 13-9

New Orleans

1989

W, 20-10

Tampa

1990

L, 35-7

New Orleans

1991

L, 23-7

New Orleans

1992

L, 23-21

New Orleans

1994

L, 9-7

Tampa

1996

W, 13-7

Tampa

1998

L, 9-3

New Orleans

1999

W, 31-16

New Orleans

2001

W, 48-21

Tampa

2002

L, 26-20

Tampa

2002

L, 23-20

New Orleans

2003

L, 17-14

Tampa

2003

W, 14-7

New Orleans

2004

W, 20-17

New Orleans

2004

L, 21-17

Tampa

2005

W, 10-3

Baton Rouge

2005

W, 27-13

Tampa

2006

L, 24-21

New Orleans

2006

L, 31-14

Tampa

2007

W, 31-14

Tampa

2007

W, 27-23

New Orleans

2008

L, 24-20

New Orleans

2008

W, 23-20

Tampa

2009

L, 38-7

Tampa

2009

W, 20-17

New Orleans

2010

L, 31-6

Tampa

2010

W, 23-13

New Orleans

2011

W, 26-20

Tampa

2011

L, 27-16

New Orleans

2012

L, 35-28

Tampa

2012

L, 41-0

New Orleans

2013

L, 16-14

Tampa


Series Notes:
  • Overall Regular Season Series: New Orleans leads, 26-17
  • Bucs' Home Record: 7-12
  • Bucs' Road Record: 10-14
  • Current Streak: Lose 4 (2011-13)
  • Buccaneers' Longest Winning Streak: 2 (five times, last in 2007)
  • Saints’ Longest Winning Streak: 6 (1983-88)
  • Regular Season Point Total: Buccaneers 773, Rams 907
  • Most Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Buccaneers 48-21 (2001)
  • Most Points in a Game, Saints: Saints 44-34 (1987)
  • Most Points, both teams: Saints 44-34 (1987)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, Buccaneers: Saints 41-0 (2012)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, Saints: Buccaneers 10-3 (2005)
  • Fewest Points in a Game, both teams: Saints 9-3 (1998)

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