NEW ORLEANS — On a day when so much of the Bucs' struggles were self-inflicted, Tampa Bay's players combined to commit 15 penalties, their highest number in any game since the second week of 2003. The flags cost the Bucs 113 yards (not counting several big gains that were wiped out) and five Saints first downs — including an illegal-hands-to-the-face call on CB Johnthan Banks on a third down in overtime that gave a fresh set of downs to New Orleans on its game-winning drive.
"(They) really hurt us," coach Lovie Smith said of the penalties. "I can think of about three that, you are not trying to do them, of course, but (hands to the face) are ones that you just can't make. ... Like every game, there are some calls that go against you. I saw things differently on a few calls."
The Bucs' offensive line accounted for at least five penalties — two holds, an illegal formation, an illegal use of hands and a false start — and players took issue with some of the flags thrown against them.
"We had some today that were pretty questionable," said guard Logan Mankins, called for a hold. "I'm not going to say anything bad about the referees because I'll get fined. Everyone's allowed to get criticized but them, I guess."
Twice the Bucs were flagged for excessive celebrations after touchdowns — against Louis Murphy and Danny Lansanah — that forced the Bucs to kick off from their 20-yard line. Landanah's penalty set up a short field for a Saints touchdown drive.
The Bucs had opened the season in control of penalties, averaging just four flags for 22 yards in their first two games under Smith. In the last three, however, they've averaged 12 penalties for 91 yards.