Bucs fall to Saints in finale, 42-17

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.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org