Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat Saints 23-20


Jermaine Phillips is a walking hardware store. He has broken his right forearm twice and still has a metal plate holding one of the bones together. There also is a screw left over from a plate (since removed) from a broken right thumb. Another plate was surgically attached to the left forearm he fractured on Oct. 26 at Dallas. "So I have two plates — one on each side," Phillips explained. According to the 29-year-old safety, they present no problem getting through airport metal detectors. "Not yet. I guess the terrorist alert is not high enough yet to set it off," Phillips said. On Sunday, the Bucs' man of steel became the man of steal. Playing his first game in more than a month, Phillips provided a clutch, fourth-quarter interception of New Orleans' Drew Brees to set up Matt Bryant's winning 37-yard field goal with 1:55 remaining in the Bucs' 23-20 victory.

Brees, who hung 51 points on the Packers on Monday and is on pace to break Dan Marino's season yardage record, passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns.

But the Bucs intercepted him three times, including once on a pass deflected in the end zone by cornerback Ronde Barber and caught by linebacker Cato June. Cornerback Phillip Buchanon sealed the deal when he stole a pass intended for Lance Moore with 1:36 remaining.

The victory improved the Bucs to 9-3 and kept them tied atop the NFC South with the Panthers heading into their Monday night showdown in Charlotte, N.C.

No interception was bigger than Phillips'. He was having, arguably, the best season of his seven-year career when he broke his left forearm.

"I like to say I'm a human sacrifice," Phillips said. "I throw my body in there at will for the team. I love to do it. That's my role, and that's what I'm going to do. It's either I'm playing real physical and I'm going to break some bones, which happens, or I've got some really weak bones and I need to drink more milk."

Because of the bye, he missed only three games but attended meetings and tutored his eventual replacement, Sabby Piscitelli.

"He said to Sabby, 'If you want to watch film, I'll watch film with you. Just let me know,' " linebacker Barrett Ruud said. "He was out there working out when we were practicing. He's always like that."

Phillips said he sent a text message to Piscitelli before the Chiefs game on Nov. 2, his first start, that read, "Hey, man, this is your opportunity. It doesn't matter how it got there, just go show the world what Sabby is about."

Phillips can become a free agent at the end of the season and knows Piscitelli, a second-round pick in 2007, is here to take his job. But he said he doesn't worry about it.

"Enjoy the people you're around while you're here, and if you can help somebody out, help them out," Phillips said. "That's what (John) Lynch and Dexter (Jackson) did for me, and I just want to continue to do that for them. When it comes down to it, this game is bigger than me. This safety position in Tampa, I want it to carry on."

Wearing a pad on his left forearm, the bones and metal plate held up fine Sunday. His mettle was tested, too.

"I don't know how many bones I've broken," Phillips said. "But I always say I've won more battles than I've lost."

The Bucs defense also got a little help from the weather. Rainy, windy conditions made it tough for Brees and the Saints to stay hot throwing the football.

In fact, the Bucs had another interception in the end zone by Tanard Jackson erased when Barber was penalized for illegal contact on tight end Jeremy Shockey. Three plays later, the Saints cut the Bucs' lead to 20-17.

"I thought it was a bad call," Barber said. "It was away from the play. It had no bearing on the outcome of the play. I feel bad for T-Jack. Because of that call, it took away an interception, and it was a scoring drive."

Barber, who returned one of his two interceptions at Detroit last week for a touchdown, was all over the field again Sunday. He finished with seven tackles, a tackle for a loss and three pass breakups.

"For whatever reason, I find my stride at the end of the season," Barber said.

By far, Barber's best play was the pass he tipped to June in the end zone. His assignment was to cover the outside receiver, but experience told him Brees would try to hit Shockey on the seam route over June.

"It was the same touchdown that Jerramy Stevens caught after my first interception last week in Detroit," Barber said.

"Knowledge is power."

Scenes from RJS

Rain and wind affect both teams. Barber shines again. And Cadillac scores. 6-7C

Three key plays

A long punt return, a stolen football and Trueblood's fumble recovery. 8C

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat Saints 23-20 11/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 1, 2008 12:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'


    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.