If Drew Brees extends his NFL-record streak to 49 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass, he'll do it against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that hasn't allowed a score through the air in the past month.
In rallying the Saints past the Chargers 31-24 before the bye week, Brees fired four touchdown passes as New Orleans (1-4) gained some momentum heading into Sunday's matchup at Raymond James Stadium.
His first-quarter scoring pass to Devery Henderson nudged Brees ahead of Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, who threw for at least one touchdown in 47 consecutive games, ranging from 1956-1960.
"I'd love it if we could keep this (streak) going for awhile,'' said Brees, who earned five Pro Bowl berths in his first six years with the Saints, "but it can't be in the thought process. You've got to play the game and not allow it to affect decision-making.
"If it happens, it happens and if it doesn't, it wasn't meant to be … and that's OK. Going into the San Diego game, it's all anybody wanted to talk about. Thankfully, it happened in the first quarter. Any time a record stands for 52 years, you figure it's pretty hard to do.''
With Brees thriving under center despite the season-long suspension of head coach Sean Payton, the Saints boast the NFL's No. 1 passing attack, an achievement that has the attention of Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
Minimizing Brees' touches is a priority for the Bucs, who rolled up 463 yards of their own in trouncing the Chiefs 38-10 on Sunday.
"Every possession is always critical,'' Sullivan said, "but when you have a premier player and a great offense on the other sideline, we have to make every one of them count. It all starts with ball security, zero turnovers, and the ability to sustain our drives on third down.''
Williams, who has already matched last year's total of three TD receptions, said reaching the end zone is critical against a New Orleans defense ranked last in the league.
"We think we've got the weapons on offense to go out and win a shootout if we have to,'' Williams said. "We're ready for anything, but we know scoring touchdowns is a must.''
The Bucs and Saints have split their season series every year since 2008. …New Orleans interim head coach Aaron Kromer served on Jon Gruden's Buccaneer staff from 2005-07. Kromer said veteran LB Jonathan Vilma, still on the Physically Unable to Perform list, might return to the field Sunday while he appeals his bounty-related suspension. …Eighteen of Vincent Jackson's 20 catches this season have generated a first down for the Bucs. …The Saints defense is allowing an NFL-high average of 7.14 yards on first down.