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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' objective: take back their turf

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 02:51 AM

There is no place like home for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they face the New Orleans Saints.

That is Tampa Bay's problem.

The Saints dominated the Bucs in the two most recent meetings at Raymond James Stadium, winning 38-7 in 2009 and 31-6 last season. Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed a combined 40 of 61 passes for 450 yards, six touchdowns and one interception in those victories.

Tampa Bay (3-2) is hoping to reverse its struggles at home against New Orleans (4-1) when the teams play Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

"A team like New Orleans, it's tough facing them (early in) the year, especially the way they play offense, the way they skin you up," Bucs running back Earnest Graham said. "I don't know what to attribute it to. I know they are coming in this week. They have a game plan and we need to execute ours."

New Orleans, which is 10-6 in Tampa, executed its game plan to perfection at Raymond James Stadium last season.

Saints receiver Lance Moore caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Brees, while Robert Meachem hauled in a 42-yarder for a score. New Orleans led 14-0 after its first two possessions.

New Orleans finished the game with 475 yards, while Tampa Bay had 277. The Saints also converted nine of 12 third downs.

"Last year was a tough deal," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "They came out and executed great. But every time you play this team, you learn a valuable lesson that will help in the second go-round.

"Hopefully we can get it right the first time, go out there, execute, prepare and play our (game)."

Tampa Bay has played its game much better in the Louisiana Superdome.

While Tampa Bay has struggled at home against New Orleans, the Bucs have won their past two games on the Saints' turf — 20-17 in 2009 and 23-13 last season.

"Tampa has played really well here in the Superdome," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said. "When you play someone in your division, I think there aren't many secrets. You try to go out and play your best football. I bet if we looked closely at Tampa's wins and our wins, we'd see some of the common denominators that lead to winning.

"We'd see turnovers have favored the team that won the game, field position, time of possession. When we do a presentation in front of our team, regardless of home or away, you see the things that keep you from winning or allow you to win."

Despite New Orleans' recent success, Brees believes Sunday's game will be difficult.

"When you look at the last five years we've been here, our (head-to-head) record is even with the Bucs, 5-5," Brees said. "There has been plenty of back and forth. They're always good games. They're always physical games. We aspire to be the top team in the division just like they do."

The Bucs have a more immediate aspiration.

Tampa Bay does not want New Orleans to feel at home Sunday.

"On any given Sunday, anything can happen," Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow said. "We know what they're doing. We know what they're going to run. It's kind of like playing against your brothers, but we'll be ready to go."


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