Saints rally to beat Bucs, win NFC South

Special teams ace Taysom Hill flipped the momentum with a blocked punt and Drew Brees converted second-half touchdowns with a short pass and a fourth-down leap to lift New Orleans to a 28-14 comeback victory over the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers and claim the Saints' second consecutive NFC South title.

The Saints (11-2), who won back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history, looked sluggish, falling behind 14-3 at halftime, but they scored 25 unanswered points with three second-half touchdown drives and a 36-yard field goal by Will Lutz to put the game away.

The Saints also stayed in contention with the Los Angeles Rams for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

Mark Ingram's 17-yard tackle-breaking run with 7:26 iced the game, putting the Saints up 25-14. Brees finished 24 of 31 for 201 yards, and the Saints rushed for 98 of their 101 yards in the second half.

Michael Thomas had 11 catches for 98 yards, giving him 298 receptions in his first three seasons, the most in NFL history.

The Bucs (5-8) dominated the Saints in the first half, taking a 14-3 lead, and it could have been even more lopsided because kicker Cairo Santos missed a 46-yard field goal after Tampa Bay had driven to a first-and-10 at the New Orleans 22.

Winston (18 of 38 for 213 yards) threw a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Cameron Brate -- for 11 yards on the opening drive and for 1 yard on the Bucs' final series of the half. The second touchdown was set up by a woeful Brees interception on a screen pass for Mark Ingram. Brees' pass was easily picked off by linebacker Adarius Taylor at the New Orleans 39. Six plays later, Winston hit Brate with the short scoring pass.

The Saints rushed for just 3 yards on nine carries in the first half and gained just 104 yards overall. The Saints' only score in the first half came on a 30-yard field goal by Lutz.

The Bucs had wasted another chance to widen their lead when defensive end Carl Nassib stripped the ball from Brees on the first series of the second half, putting Tampa Bay at the New Orleans 27. But Santos missed his second field goal of the game, from 40 yards, and the score remained 14-3.

The Saints then turned the momentum with another huge play by Hill, a reserve quarterback and special teams ace, who knifed up the middle to block a Bryan Anger punt and give the Saints a first down at the Bucs' 30.

Five plays later, Brees hit fullback Zach Line for a 1-yard score, and the Saints converted a two-point conversion on Alvin Kamara's sweep of left end, pulling the Saints within 14-11 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.

Then after sacking Winston twice on the next series, the Saints got another short field, starting at their 49, and Brees capped a 10-play drive with a 1-yard leap on fourth down to put the Saints up 18-14 with 11:46 left.

--Field Level Media

Final1st2nd3rd4thScore
Tampa Bay BuccaneersBuccaneers770014
New Orleans SaintsSaints0381728
Tampa Bay
Passing:Jameis Winston 18/38 (213 YDS)
Rushing:Jameis Winston 5 CAR (47 YDS)
Receiving:Mike Evans 4 REC (86 YDS)
New Orleans
Passing:Drew Brees 24/31 (201 YDS)
Rushing:Mark Ingram II 13 CAR (52 YDS)
Receiving:Michael Thomas 11 REC (98 YDS)
Season Series
Tampa BayStatsNew Orleans
3-2Vs2-3
129Points136
15Touchdowns15
8/10Field Goals9/10
103/168 (1301 yd.)Passing129/177 (1461 yd.)
143 CAR (502 yd.)Rushing118 CAR (455 yd.)