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Bucs collapse to lose to Saints in OT

NEW ORLEANS – The mathematical swing is easier to explain. The Bucs blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, lost it in the fifth quarter and set off a celebration in the French Quarter following their 37-31 overtime defeat to the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees Sunday.

But the emotional collapse was just as devastating and the psychological breakdowns were what Bucs players had trouble articulating as they showered and dressed to leave the Mercedes Superdome.

"There's no excuse on our end why we didn't win this game,'' cornerback Alterraun Verner said. "The offense is probably not going to blame us. They're probably going to say they should've made another play. But there's no way they put up 31 points and kept us in the game the way they did and we don't finish it.

"That's supposed to be our calling card. We're supposed to carry this team and we didn't finish today. Even in overtime, even if we give up a field goal and give our offense a chance to score and we didn't. That's poor on us.''

Instead, Saints running back Khiry Robinson bulldozed over Bucs safeties Bradley McDougald and Mark Barron on his way to the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown run with 9:24 in overtime to complete the comeback.

Robinson's run capped an 80-yard drive in OT after the Bucs lost the coin toss. Under the new rules, had they held the Saints to a field goal, they would've been given at least one offensive possession to win or tie.

It shouldn't have come to that. Tampa Bay (1-4) led 31-20 with until 9:28 in regulation but saw the Saints get a touchdown, safety and field goal to send the game to the extra period.

Brees passed for 371 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he was intercepted three times, including once by Verner with 16 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

But the Bucs defense simply couldn't get off the field late, and a penalty for illegal use of hands on cornerback Johnthan Banks extended the Saints drive in overtime after a third down incompletion.

"I thought we were off the field,'' Banks said. "I didn't see (the flag) coming, myself. I was running toward the huddle. They made the call, we have to live with it.''

The Bucs also have to live with having wasted a pretty good effort by the offense and quarterback Mike Glennon, who passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns with one INT. After trailing 13-0 until late in the second quarter, the Bucs rallied for 24 unanswered points and led 24-13 late in the third and 31-20 until the Saints' Pierre Thomas scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 9:28 left in the fourth.

The two-point conversion pass attempt failed, but the Saints cut the lead to a field goal when Glennon was sacked in the end zone for a safety by linebacker Junior Galette. That completed a disastrous series in which the Bucs had a holding penalty, a wayward shot gun snap that Glennon pounced on after it hit Vincent Jackson in motion, as well as delay of game and false start penalties.

In fact, the Bucs were flagged 15 times for 113 yards Sunday, their most in any game since Week 2 of 2003. That was four head coaches ago.

"There's no other way around it. You're up by 11, and with our defense, you win the football game,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "It's as simple as that. You don't let them score any more.

"Whenever you get up like that on the road, you've got to be able to finish the job.''

The Bucs knew Brees was capable of rallying the Saints. But under Sean Payton, it was only the second time they had come back from 10 points in the fourth quarter to win a game.

Actually, the Bucs needed a turnaround of their own. It began with Patrick Murray's 55-yard field goal with 2 minutes left in the half and Banks' interception a few plays later. Glennon hit Louis Murphy for a 20-yard TD pass with 20 seconds left to cut the halftime lead to 13-10.

The Bucs poured it on in the third quarter. Bobby Rainey scored on a touchdown run and three plays later, linebacker Danny Lansanah picked off Brees and return the INT 32 yards for a touchdown and a 24-13 lead. It was Lansanah's second pick-six in five games this season.

A week ago, it was the defense which bailed Glennon out, getting him the ball back against the Steelers to set up his last-second heroics. On Sunday, he had lots of teammates to commiserate with.

"We're not where we want to be,'' Glennon said. "Our record says that. We're getting better, but better isn't what you want to be.''

But the emotional collapse was just as devastating and the psychological breakdowns were what Bucs players had trouble articulating as they showered and dressed to leave the Mercedes Superdome.

"There's no excuse on our end why we didn't win this game,'' cornerback Alterraun Verner said. "The offense is probably not going to blame us. They're probably going to say they should've made another play. But there's no way they put up 31 points and kept us in the game the way they did and we don't finish it.

"That's supposed to be our calling card. We're supposed to carry this team and we didn't finish today. Even in overtime, even if we give up a field goal and give our offense a chance to score and we didn't. That's poor on us.''

Instead, Saints running back Khiry Robinson bulldozed over Bucs safeties Bradley McDougald and Mark Barron on his way to the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown run with 9:24 in overtime to complete the comeback.

Robinson's run capped an 80-yard drive in OT after the Bucs lost the coin toss. Under the new rules, had they held the Saints to a field goal, they would've been given at least one offensive possession to win or tie.

It shouldn't have come to that. Tampa Bay (1-4) led 31-20 with until 9:28 in regulation but saw the Saints get a touchdown, safety and field goal to send the game to the extra period.

Brees passed for 371 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he was intercepted three times, including once by Verner with 16 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

But the Bucs defense simply couldn't get off the field late, and a penalty for illegal use of hands on cornerback Johnthan Banks extended the Saints drive in overtime after a third down incompletion.

"I thought we were off the field,'' Banks said. "I didn't see (the flag) coming, myself. I was running toward the huddle. They made the call, we have to live with it.''

The Bucs also have to live with having wasted a pretty good effort by the offense and quarterback Mike Glennon, who passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns with one INT. After trailing 13-0 until late in the second quarter, the Bucs rallied for 24 unanswered points and led 24-13 late in the third and 31-20 until the Saints' Pierre Thomas scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 9:28 left in the fourth.

The two-point conversion pass attempt failed, but the Saints cut the lead to a field goal when Glennon was sacked in the end zone for a safety by linebacker Junior Galette. That completed a disastrous series in which the Bucs had a holding penalty, a wayward shot gun snap that Glennon pounced on after it hit Vincent Jackson in motion, as well as delay of game and false start penalties.

In fact, the Bucs were flagged 15 times for 113 yards Sunday, their most in any game since Week 2 of 2003. That was four head coaches ago.

"There's no other way around it. You're up by 11, and with our defense, you win the football game,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "It's as simple as that. You don't let them score any more.

"Whenever you get up like that on the road, you've got to be able to finish the job.''

The Bucs knew Brees was capable of rallying the Saints. But under Sean Payton, it was only the second time they had come back from 10 points in the fourth quarter to win a game.

Actually, the Bucs needed a turnaround of their own. It began with Patrick Murray's 55-yard field goal with 2 minutes left in the half and Banks' interception a few plays later. Glennon hit Louis Murphy for a 20-yard TD pass with 20 seconds left to cut the halftime lead to 13-10.

The Bucs poured it on in the third quarter. Bobby Rainey scored on a touchdown run and three plays later, linebacker Danny Lansanah picked off Brees and return the INT 32 yards for a touchdown and a 24-13 lead. It was Lansanah's second pick-six in five games this season.

A week ago, it was the defense which bailed Glennon out, getting him the ball back against the Steelers to set up his last-second heroics. On Sunday, he had lots of teammates to commiserate with.

"We're not where we want to be,'' Glennon said. "Our record says that. We're getting better, but better isn't what you want to be.''

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