Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
TAMPA, Fla. – When the Saints had a chance Sunday to seemingly steal a win at Tampa Bay, the man who has led so many fourth-quarter comebacks in a New Orleans uniform finally faltered.
Quarterback Drew Brees, who a week prior guided the Saints on a clock-eating, yard-chewing, game-winning late fourth quarter drive against Carolina, threw an interception in the end zone against the Bucs, ending the Saints’ hopes of a win.
It was one of three interceptions he threw and four total turnovers the Saints had in a 26-20 loss to division rival Tampa Bay.
“Fact of the matter is that will get you beat,” Brees said. “We have to do a better job of that. I’m confident that we will.”
New Orleans (4-2, 1-1 NFC South) is now minus-seven on the season in the takeaway-giveaway battle, a statistic that, in the long run, likely won’t lead to wins.
Brees was 29 of 45 for 383 yards and a touchdown, but the biggest number by his stat line is the three interceptions he threw. He now has eight interceptions on the season.
And as much as offensive giveaways are a problem – New Orleans has 11 this season – the Saints can’t seem to come up with takeaways.
“It’s not good right now,” linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “I don’t really worry about the offense and their turnovers and all that. We have to get them the ball back.”
Against Tampa Bay (4-2, 2-0), linebacker Scott Shanle and cornerback Patrick Robinson had their hands passes. But neither could come up with turnovers.
And Tampa Bay didn't fumble the ball once.
“We know it’s something we haven’t been doing well and you talk about it all week and you get another opportunity to do it and you come up with zero – it’s kind of frustrating,” Shanle said. “Especially when their defense gets four.”
The Buccaneers scored 10 points off of Saints turnovers.
New Orleans fell behind 3-0 in the first quarter when running back Pierre Thomas fumbled on New Orleans’ first series.
In the second quarter, an interception at New Orleans’ 41 led to a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Freeman to receiver Preston Parker.
And though the third turnover didn’t lead to anything, the fourth and final one ended New Orleans’ hopes of a comeback win when Tampa Bay linebacker Quincy Black intercepted Brees in the end zone on fourth-and-two.
“Offensively it’s our job to go down there and score and defensively it’s their job to stop them on the other end,” Brees said. “Unfortunately we just couldn’t put the ball in the end zone to get the victory. So that’s on us.”