[to top of second column]
New Orleans had four turnovers in the game. Tampa Bay's defense also held the Saints under 30 points for only the second time this season and shut down New Orleans' rushing attack.
"We gave it away four times," Brees said. "The fact of the matter is that will get you beat."
The Bucs led 23-13 heading into the fourth quarter until Ingram's 12-yard run capped a seven-play, 82-yard drive and pulled the Saints within a field goal.
Tampa Bay stretched it to 26-20 with a field goal with 7:54 left, opening the door for Saints.
But facing a fourth-and-2 on the 4, Brees' pass was intercepted in the end zone by safety Quincy Black. The Bucs then put the ball in Graham's hands and were able to run out the clock.
"We definitely missed (an opportunity)," Saints receiver Marques Colston said. "At the end of day, it's one game. It would have been great for us to get the win. (But) there is no playoff seed that is being decided today."
The Saints' first drive of the game also ended with Ingram's fumble that was scooped up by the Bucs' Da'Quan Bowers and led to a field goal three plays later.
Brees' touchdown pass to Colston on their next possession briefly put the Saints up 7-3, but there was little to smile about after that as the Bucs reeled off 17 points.
"Mistakes on our behalf," New Orleans defensive end Will Smith said. "They made some plays here and there, and we made a couple mistakes here and there. But we still had a chance to win at the end and we just fell short."
Except for a few misfired throws early, Freeman was solid throughout, connecting with Arrelious Benn over the middle for a 65-yard score and later with Preston Parker in traffic from 18 yards.
Brees was intercepted twice in the half, including one off a deflection by Bucs safety Tanard Jackson. He was playing in his first game since being reinstated by NFL after being suspended more than a year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
< Sports index
Back to top
News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries
Law & Courts |
Spiritual Life |
Health & Fitness |
Calendar | Letters to the Editor