New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem (17) catches a pass in front of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) before falling into the end zone for a touchdown.
Crystal LoGiudice/Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended another disappointing season with little defense and lots of questions about the future of coach Greg Schiano.
Drew Brees threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns as New Orleans clinched a playoff berth, beating Tampa Bay 42-17 on Sunday at the Superdome. The Bucs (4-12), meanwhile, completed their third consecutive losing season and sixth in a row without a trip to the postseason.
Whether Schiano, 11-21 in two seasons with Tampa Bay, returns for a third remains to be seen. The Bucs started the year 0-8 and closed with losses in four of their last five.
The Bucs allowed season highs in points and yards (468) against the Saints, who had three scoring tosses of more than 40 yards in the first half. Schiano also called for a fake field goal that failed miserably when the outcome was still in doubt late in the first half.
"I don’t think I have to say anything," Schiano said when asked about his future. "That’s not being smug. I come in and do my job the best that I can. That’s other people’s decision."
Schiano also has been reportedly linked to a potential opening at Penn State if Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien leaves for the NFL.
"I made this comment Wednesday, and I’ll say it again – I and no one connected to me has had any contact with Penn State," Schiano said. "The job I have is the job I want."
The Bucs did a poor job of defending Brees, who connected with Lance Moore for a 44-yard touchdown on the Saints’ opening possession, Robert Meachem for a 41-yard touchdown that made the score 14-7 in the second quarter and a wide open Kenny Stills for 76 yards as the Saints went ahead 28-14 with 2:40 left in the half.
Meachem outjumped cornerback Darrelle Revis in the corner of the end zone for his touchdown. No one covered Stills, who ran down the seam and was at least 10 yards in the clear.
Brees was 17 of 21 for 321 yards in the first half, when he threw all four of his scoring passes and took a perfect 158.3 passer rating into the locker room. His final line was 24 of 31 for 381 yards, no interceptions and a rating of 157.4.
"We made mistakes, and they executed when we did," Revis said. "Drew Brees is a Hall of Fame quarterback. He’ll pick you apart if you make a mistake like that."
Tampa Bay, which entered with the lowest-ranked offense, moved the ball effectively early.
After the Saints scored on their opening possession for the first time in 11 games, the Bucs responded on their first series with a flea-flicker that went for a 48-yard touchdown to Tiquan Underwood. Underwood was wide open after safety Malcolm Jenkins was drawn in by the handoff to Bobby Rainey.
New Orleans took the lead right back with another 80-yard drive, that one highlighted by Graham’s 33-yard reception, Darren Sproles’ 24-yard gain on a screen pass and Graham’s 10-yard TD catch, the Pro Bowl tight end’s team-leading 16th score of the season.
Tampa Bay pulled within 21-14 on tight end Tim Wright’s 1-yard reception, capping a nine-play, 80-yard drive.
The next time the Bucs had the ball, Schiano tried the fake field goal on fourth-and-10 from the Saints 25. Holder Michael Koenen, the punter, took a shotgun snap, rolled to his right and threw the ball away under duress.
"They had no timeouts, so I thought that we could maybe get them off guard," Schiano said. "Obviously it didn’t work. In retrospect, bad call."
Tampa Bay converted a 54-yard field goal on its opening drive of the second half to cut the deficit to 28-17 but did not score again. New Orleans put the game away with touchdowns on its first two series on the second half.
Glennon, who started the last 13 games, went 22 of 41 for 219 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He was no match for Brees, though, and neither were the Bucs.
"Any time you win only four games, there are definitely going to be some type of changes," right tackle Demar Dotson said. "Upstairs, downstairs. I don’t know what it’s going to be. I don’t have a vote."
NOTES: Tampa Bay has won four or fewer games in three of the past five years. . Brees went over 5,000 passing yards for the fourth time in his career. No other quarterback has done it more than once. . Underwood’s touchdown was his sixth of the season, and Wright’s was his fifth.