A home game inside the friendly walls of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and a matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was everything the New Orleans Saints could have asked for after a primetime loss to Dallas last week and a rough 1-3 start to the season. The Saints did get the win, 37-31, but they needed overtime to do it, an extra frame to overcome a game that almost slipped away from them.
The Buccaneers stormed ahead in the second half. Bobby Rainey punched one in for a 9-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter. They picked off a shaky Drew Brees on the next series, returning it 33 yards for a touchdown and an 11-point lead. But the Saints battled back, helped along by some Buccaneers gaffes in the fourth quarter, including sacking Mike Glennon for a safety to make up for a missed Saints two-point conversion.
Losing Jimmy Graham to a shoulder injury didn't help the Saints' efforts. But they persevered.
In overtime, the Saints won the toss and strung together a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a Khiry Robinson rushing touchdown.
1) What's the matter with Drew Brees? Sure, he got his 40,000 career passing yards this week, the quickest that any quarterback has reached that milestone, but his accomplishment was overshadowed by a ugly day at work. He threw three interceptions, including a pick-six in the third quarter and the third on a deep shot to Robert Meachem in the final seconds of regulation. There's a lot wrong with the Saints right now, but when Brees isn't playing well, they have no way to cover up their other faults.
2) Don't sleep on the Bucs. Lovie Smith's bunch looked dead in the water to start the season with three straight losses, including one to the hapless Rams. Then they shocked the Steelers in Week 4, and very nearly pulled off an upset on the road against the Saints this week, something that would have been unimaginable even two weeks ago. The Bucs get the Ravens next week, a tough one, before a bye. After that, it's Minnesota and Cleveland before a Week 10 matchup against Atlanta.
3) The NFC South is a confusing place. The Saints had this division locked up ... in August. The Panthers were a potential interloper and a good bet for a wild card spot. The Buccaneers were supposed to be bringing up the rear. The Panthers lead at 3-2, but none of these teams appear to be capable of pulling away from the others -- they all have major flaws. The Buccaneers sit in the cellar at 1-4, but they could still sneak into the mix.