The Bucs won the toss to start the game and elected to defer – a first this season. The Saints got off to a relatively fast start with big plays to running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook but were forced to settle for a field goal after a big second-down sack of utility quarterback Taysom Hill by the rookie Mike Edwards. The Saints took a 3-0 lead after eating about five minutes of clock.
Tampa Bay's first drive didn't yield any results as the Saints' defense forced a three-and-out, giving New Orleans the ball back. They wouldn't get into the end zone though, as the Bucs' defense bent but didn't break. They stopped the Saints from inside the red zone behind an offensive holding call on a would-be Kamara touchdown and a couple big tackles by rookie inside linebacker Devin White. New Orleans took a 6-0 lead just before the expiration of the first quarter.
The next drive for the Bucs started out promising before a pass was intercepted by New Orleans' Demario Davis. Winston fired off a pass to tight end O.J. Howard who bobbled it behind his back before Davis ended up scooping it out of the air. A play later and the Saints were in the end zone on a 16-yard pass from quarterback Drew Brees to wide receiver Michael Thomas for the Saint's first touchdown of the game. It made the score 13-0 at the start of the second quarter.
Winston would take a costly sack on third down that cause the Bucs to again come up empty on their next offensive drive. The Saints answered with a 13-play drive that took 6:42 and ended with a three-yard pass to tight end Jared Cook. It increased New Orleans' lead to 20-0 with 5:13 left in the half.
Finally, on the next drive the Bucs found their footing. A big 48-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Scotty Miller set the Bucs up with first-and-goal from the one-yard line. Tampa Bay punched it in on a six-yard pass to running back Peyton Barber in the end zone, cutting the Saints' lead to 20-7 with 2:42 left in the second quarter.
The Bucs' defense stepped up to force a Saints' punt on the next drive. It gave the Tampa Bay offense 1:38 to work with as they tried to come up with a score. It wouldn't happen, even though the Bucs got past midfield. Winston was intercepted to end the half with the Bucs trailing 20-7.
Tampa got the ball to start the half and drove just past midfield before stalling. They'd get close enough for kicker Matt Gay, who drilled a 55-yarder to cut the lead to 20-10 with 11:08 left in the third.
The Saints answered again with a touchdown drive after going the length of the field in 10 plays. Brees hit Ted Ginn Jr. from six yards out to put the Saints up 27-10 with 5:27 left in the third quarter.
This time, it was the Bucs that answered with a touchdown this time, as the Bucs drove down the field. Winston dumped the ball of to wide receiver Chris Godwin who took the catch-and-run for 30 yards into the end zone, bringing the Bucs back within 10 at 27-17.
The two teams then traded punts and the ensuing New Orleans drive saw them just barely convert a fourth-down-and-one on a Brees quarterback keeper. They were ultimately stopped and forced to punt after the Bucs' defense held up.
The next series the Bucs muscled their way to a couple first downs before being faced with 4th-and-10. They went for it with just about five minutes remaining in the game when Winston was picked off by safety Marcus Williams, who ran it in for the score. It put the Saints up 34-17 with just under five minutes to play.
The Bucs got another shot immediately now down one more score. They got to the New Orleans 33-yard-line before facing 4th-and-10 again. They drew a defensive holding call, prolonging the drive. The first play went for a big gain as Winston hit Mike Evans over the middle. Evans took it for extra yards, eventually being taken down at the one-yard-line. Third-down and Winston was intercepted by P.J. Williams in the end zone with 2:24 remaining in the game.
The Saints then took to running the clock out - neither team had a timeout left. They'd drain the clock, leaving the score 34-17 in favor of the visitors.