Saints March To Victory


Doug Brien is the New Orleans Saints' new "Mr. Automatic."

Brien

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  • kicked three field goals, including a 50-yarder, to help the Saints snap their three-game losing streak with a 9-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

    "In my position you need to contribute every chance you get," said Brien, 10-for-10 this season. "That's my goal -- make them all."

    While Brien was making the most of his chances, the offenses for both teams struggled. Tampa Bay got just 11 first downs to New Orleans' 12 and each team converted on just four of 16 third downs.

    "We came out and played hard with the line coming off the ball and everybody looking to do something," Saints safety Sammy Knight said. "We needed to stop them every time, not just sometimes. We needed to stop losing before it got any worse."

    The

    Doug Brien
    New Orleans' Doug Brien kicks the second of three field goals. The ball is held by Saints punter Mark Royals. (AP)
    Saints (4-3), ranked 23rd in the NFL in offense, managed 266 yards total. The Buccaneers (3-4), who have not scored a first-half offensive touchdown this season, continued their streak and added the second half to it in this game.

    Tampa Bay was coming off home victories over the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, but has played poorly on the road, averaging just 9.3 points in losing all three previous away games.

    "hen you look at it you can't believe it," Bucs defensive lineman Warren Sapp said. "But we went out there and laid an egg in a very important game. I'm as baffled as anyone outside looking in, and I'm inside looking out."

    The Saints, who allowed an average of about 31 points and 383 yards in losses to New England, San Francisco and Atlanta the three previous weeks, held Tampa Bay to 238 yards in total offense. Trent Dilfer was just 20-of-44 for 186 yards, with two interceptions and a sack.

    "It's frustrating because we can't score many touchdowns and we're not putting together many drives," Buccaneers receiver Jacquez Green said.

    The closest the Buccaneers got to a touchdown was when they reached New Orleans 10-yard line in the first quarter, only to have Patrick Hape fumble after catching a short pass. Knight recovered for the Saints.

    Bucs/Saints
    Tampa Bay's Anthony Parker (27) reaches over the back of Sean Dawkins to prevent the Saints wide receiver from making a TD catch. (AP)

    Knight intercepted Dilfer on the first play of the second quarter, setting up a 29-yard drive for the Saints and a 46-yard field goal by Brien that gave New Orleans a 3-0 lead at the half.

    Brien, who kicked his 50-yarder in the third quarter and added a 41-yarder in the fourth, has stepped in where Morten Andersen left off.

    Andersen, who earned the nickname "Mr. Automatic" in New Orleans, leads the NFL in game-winning field goals. He left the Saints for Atlanta after the 1994 season.

    At the beginning of the third quarter, Tampa Bay drove 26 yards to set up Michael Husted's 52-yard field goal that tied the game 3-3. Husted missed a 32-yard attempt on the Bucs' next possession and a 48-yard attempt on Tampa Bay's first drive of the fourth quarter.

    In the fourt, Tampa Bay drove to the Saints 25 only to have the drive stall when Warrick Dunn rushed for 1 yard, Kevin Mitchell sacked Dilfer for a 6-yard loss and Wayne Martin batted down a third-down pass at the line of scrimmage before Husted missed the field goal.

    "We've just got to play better," Bucs coach Tony Dungy said. "We think we've got our best players out there playing and we've got to make plays. ... If changes help, we'll make them. If not, our job is to get players playing better."

    Dunn was held to just 46 yards rushing on 11 carries; the Bucs gained just 58 yards rushing. In Tampa Bay's three victories, they've averaged 175.6 yards per game rushing. In their four losses they have rushed for a total of just 231 yards.

    The Saints ground game was no better. They rushed for 56 yards, led by Troy Davis with 48 yards on 18 carries.

    New Orleans' Billy Joe Toliver was 20-of-32 fo216 yards and was sacked once. Kerry Collins, acquired by the Saints off waivers after his falling out with Carolina, was suited up but stayed on the sideline.

    Sapp, who finished with a couple of tackles and no sacks, was booed every time he stepped on the field by fans angry that he criticized Collins and questioned his courage.

    Notes

  • With their fourth-quarter sack of Trent Dilfer , the Saints extended their streak of consecutive games with a sack to 56. The NFL record is 60 games.
  • The Buccaneers won their first game in franchise history in the New Orleans Superdome way back in 1977. The Saints haven't lost to the Bucs in the Superdome since Dec. 5, 1982.
  • Injuries, Bucs: safety Damien Robinson , broken right arm; cornerback Anthony Parker , pulled right hamstring. Saints: none reported.

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