Bucs crushed by Saints 23-13 with division title chances in their hands.

TAMPA – It was New Year’s Eve, and the atmosphere at Raymond James Stadium was festive as fans filed in to see their Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7) go up against division rival New Orleans Saints (7-8).

Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, December 31, 2023, New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr #4 make a pass at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Both teams are in contention for playoff spots. Tampa, with its 8-7 record, is a game up on New Orleans, so this game was crucial to getting into the playoffs.

New Orleans came to play, as they quickly went on a 73-yard drive to open the game with a 4-yard Derek Carr pass to Juwan Johnson for the opening score.

The Saints proceeded to score 20 straight points on the Bucs for a 20-0 lead. New Orleans managed to hold Tampa scoreless well into the fourth quarter, while Carr and Alvin Kamara proceeded to run their offense and score points.

Kicker Blake Grupe managed to fill in the additional scoring for the Saints with three field goals of 48 yards, 28 yards, and 38 yards.

Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, December 31, 2023, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara #41 makes a run but is tackled at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Carr was 24-32 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints rushed for 108 yards, 45 of those belonging to Kamara, including a 13-yard rush.

Tampa really couldn’t get anything going until the fourth quarter. Several drives were ended by miscues and dropped passes, the turnovers killed the Bucs, five penalties for 38 yards, many of them taking Tampa Bay to 3rd and more than 10 yards. Two sacks, and two fumbles.

Baker Mayfield threw two interceptions in the game, one on a deep try to Try Palmer on a deep route where he was covered by two Saints defenders.

Palmer came back later and caught another deep ball by Mayfield, diving for the ball, and then fumbled the ball as he hit the ground, which was picked up by the Saints.

Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, December 31, 2023, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver David Moore #19 misses the pass at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Tampa came back with 7:50 left in the fourth quarter. Mayfield hit Palmer for a 22-yard touchdown pass, finally getting the Bucs on the board.

Later, with 1:37 left on the clock, Mayfield hit Chris Godwin with a 47-yard touchdown pass. The Buccaneers went for two, but the attempt failed.

The Bucs are still in the playoff hunt. Basically, if they win the NFC South division, they’re in. Their record is now an even 8-8 with New Orleans.

The Buccaneers will play a win-and-in road game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 18, going for a head-to-head season sweep and a third straight NFC South title.



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