The New Orleans Saints won the coin toss and elected to defer, letting the Buccaneers offense get on the field first. The Bucs wouldn't be able to come up with anything though, going three and out for the first of a few times on the night.
The Saints took over with just over a minute elapsed in the game. New Orleans drove down the field despite being faced with multiple third-down situations. It culminated with a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Brees to wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith and gave the Saints a 7-0 lead with 9:34 left in the first quarter.
After a holding penalty backed the Bucs' offense up on their next drive, they wouldn't be able to recover and again surrendered the ball back to New Orleans from deep in their own territory. The Saints took over at their 34-yard line.
New Orleans got into Buccaneer territory in a hurry thanks to what ended up being a 40-yard catch and run by wide receiver Deonte Harris. The Bucs forced the Saints into a fourth-down and one situation but Brees handed the ball off to fullback Michael Burton and got the first down. Head Coach Bruce Arians didn't think so at the time and threw the red challenge flag. The referees ruled the call stood and the Saints continued their drive. It wouldn't end in points for New Orleans, though. Safety Jordan Whitehead forced a fumble from tight end Jared Cook that inside linebacker Lavonte David recovered at the two-yard line. It pinned the Bucs on their own goal line but kept the Saints from adding to their 7-0 lead with about three minutes left in the first quarter.
The Buccaneer offense wasn't able to do anything on their next possession, going three and out for the third straight time. After a short punt and minimal return, the Saints would take back over at the Bucs' 35-yard line in prime scoring position. A quick 17-yard scamper on the first play from running back Alvin Kamara and New Orleans was inside the red zone. The drive ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Brees to tight end Adam Trautman. After the good point after, New Orleans took a 14-0 lead as the first quarter expired.
Another three-and-out for the Bucs would give the Saints another possession less than a minute into the second quarter. Another short punt then had New Orleans beginning their series at midfield. It ended in another touchdown as Brees connected with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to put the Saints up 21-0 with 11:44 left in the second quarter.
The Bucs got a first down on their next series, but it was cut short on a pass deflection-turned-interception for the Saints, who took over at the Tampa Bay 27. A few plays later and running back Alvin Kamara pushed his way into the end zone to put the Saints up 28-0 with 8:45 on the clock.
The Bucs would get as far as the Saints' 38-yard line before facing fourth-down and six. They went for it, trying to gain some momentum with just over five minutes left in the half. Brady aired it out for tight end Rob Gronkowski but it was just beyond his reach and it fell incomplete as New Orleans took over on downs.
This time, the Buccaneer defense would hold New Orleans to a field goal, mitigating the damage and the lead to 31-0. The Bucs took back over with 1:49 to go before halftime.
The possession would end early again, though. After getting into Saints' territory, Brady aired it out for wide receiver Antonio Brown down the sideline and was then picked off by safety Marcus Williams. New Orleans took back over with under a minute to go at their own 15-yard line. Brees took two knees to end the half and the Bucs went into the locker room trailing 31-0.
View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 9 matchup against New Orleans on Sunday Night Football.
The first series of the second half would end abruptly for the Saints as the Bucs again forced a fumble and recovered it. Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett strip-sacked Brees and it was recovered by safety Mike Edwards who returned it well into Saints' territory. The Bucs made their first trip inside the red zone and were helped by a defensive pass interference call that gave them a fresh set of downs at the one-yard-line. New Orleans put up a goal-line stand to prevent the Buccaneers from converting any points and the score remained 31-0 as the Saints took over on downs from their own one-yard-line.
The good news was that New Orleans wouldn't come away with any points on their next possession as the Tampa Bay defense forced a punt.
The Buccaneer offense was faced with fourth and seven and in a desperation play under pressure, Brady threw it up for Gronkowski but was instead picked off for the third time of the night. The Saints took back over at their own 30-yard line.
They'd again drive the field and it would again end in a touchdown as Brees connected with wide receiver Josh Hill to put the Saints up 38-0 with 9:07 left.
The next possession for the Buccaneers saw them cross over to New Orleans' side of the field. After a mauling of Tom Brady in which he took hits and back-to-back sacks that brought up third and 34, the Bucs took the opportunity on fourth down to get some points on the board and avoid the shutout. Kicker Ryan Succop connected on a 48-yard field goal, making the score 38-3 with 5:52 left in the game.
Brees was done for the night as former Buccaneer quarterback Jameis Winston entered the game for the Saints. They'd maintain possession of the ball until the game was over as Winston took four knees to end the game. The Bucs briefly took over to take a final knee and leave the score 38-3.