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Brees throws for 228 yards, 3 TDs as Saints beat Bucs 34-17

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By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer

Players: Drew Brees, Ted Ginn Jr., Jared Cook, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Jameis Winston, Peyton Barber, Alvin Kamara, Chris Godwin

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) reacts after throwing an interception to New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)


New Orleans Saints strong safety Vonn Bell (24) celebrates after intercepting a pass by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray (28) gets pulled down by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Devin White (45) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) steps over a tackle by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)


New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., (19) celebrates his touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) beats Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting (26) on a 16-yard touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The New Orleans Saints played with the urgency of a team determined to get back on track.

''You lose a game, you move forward. The next game can't come quick enough,'' coach Sean Payton said Sunday after the NFC South leaders rebounded from an ugly loss to last-place Atlanta with a 34-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Drew Brees threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns, and NFL receptions leader Michael Thomas became the first player in league history with 90-plus catches in the first 10 games of a season for the Saints (8-2).

In addition to a 16-yard scoring pass to Thomas in the first half, Brees tosses TD passes of 3 yards to Jared Cook and 6 to Ted Ginn Jr. after New Orleans was held out of the end zone during the previous week's 26-9 loss to the Falcons.

Safety Marcus Williams put an exclamation point on a strong defensive performance, returning the third of New Orleans' four interceptions 55 yards for a touchdown that put the Saints up 34-17 with just over five minutes remaining.

Thomas, who also became the first player with at least 90 receptions in each of his first four NFL seasons, had eight catches for 114 yards. That boosted his totals for 2019 to 94 receptions for 1,141 yards. The previous high for most catches in the first 10 game of a season was 89 by Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and Atlanta's Julio Jones.

Brees isn't surprised.

''It's just what we see every day in practice. Maybe it's one of those things that when it's all said and done you'll look back and you'll really appreciate it. I just love his mindset. He is a `I want the ball, I will get open, I will make the play for you' guy,'' Brees said.

''I've played with a lot of good ones, a lot of great ones, and the thing that's common with those guys is the trust factor,'' Brees added. ''You have to be able to anticipate certain things which allow you to play with confidence and be accurate and make a lot of those throws that others might not try to make.''

A battered Jameis Winston completed 30 of 51 passes for313 yards and two TDS for the Bucs (3-7), who have lost five of six following a 2-2 start. In addition to throwing four interceptions, Winston was sacked twice and pressured all day by a persistent pass rush that left him hobbling across the field on a sore ankle to try to make the tackle on Williams' long interception return up the New Orleans sideline.

''Too many mistakes to beat a good team,'' Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said.

''It's very frustrating. We've got the players. It's never been about the players since I've been here,'' said receiver Mike Evans, closing in on his sixth 1,000-yard season, said. ''It's just we've been very, very inconsistent. ... I don't know what we've got to do to overturn it, but we've got to do something because this feeling is awful.''

Brees, meanwhile, was 28 of 35 with no interceptions in his third start since returning from a thumb injury that sidelined him five games. The Saints outgained the Bucs 195 yards to 11 while building an early 20-0 lead, controlling the ball for 20 of the game's first 25 minutes. An offensive line playing without injured guard Andrus Peat protected the 40-year-old quarterback, who was not sacked Sunday after Atlanta got to him six times the previous week.

''One of the things we felt like was going to be important in this game was a fast start on the road, and I thought we had that,'' Payton said. ''It wasn't our best game, but I thought we did a lot of good things to win.''

Winston threw TD passes of 6 yards to Peyton Barber and 30 yards to Chris Godwin. Tampa Bay ran the ball a franchise-low eight times for 36 yards, with Winston scrambling for a team-leading 23 on two attempts.

KAMARA FACTOR

Saints running back Alvin Kamara rushed for 75 yards on 13 carries. He also had a team-high 10 receptions for 47 yards.

''It's huge,'' Kamara said of getting back on track after losing to the Falcons. ''Any time you lose, it's just a little bit more of a heightened awareness to go into the next game, execute and ... come out with a victory.''

NICE ENCORE

The Saints beat the Bucs 31-24 in New Orleans in Week 5, holding Evans without a catch. While replicating that success figured to be difficult, even if injured cornerback Marshon Lattimore - the primary defender on Evans in the earlier meeting - had played Sunday, the Saints nevertheless did a nice job again of containing one of the league's top receivers with P.J. Williams filling in for Lattimore.

Evans had four catches for 69 yards and no touchdowns. The sixth-year pro boosted his season total to 58 for 993 yards - seven yards shy of joining Hall of Famer Randy Moss as the only players in NFL history to begin a career with six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

INJURIES

Saints: Played without Lattimore (hamstring) and Peat (forearm), who were injured during last week's loss to Atlanta. Team did not announce any injuries during the game.

Buccaneers: OLB Carl Nassib (groin) missed his second straight game, replaced in the starting lineup by Jason Pierre-Paul. ... Winston said he was hit in the ankle while throwing the interception that Williams returned for a touchdown. He added he doesn't expect it to be a problem or affect his status for next week.

UP NEXT

Saints: Return home to host Carolina on Sunday, continuing stretch of four consecutive games against NFC South rivals.

Buccaneers: at Atlanta on Sunday.

Player Notes
Philip Rivers Dec 13 6:10pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is coming off a phenomenal game in Jacksonville, but he'll have his work cut out for him this week when the Minnesota Vikings come to town. Rivers will be squaring off against a top-10 defense versus opposing quarterbacks, and Minnesota's defense is tied for third in interceptions this year. With Rivers' penchant for turnovers this season, that could spell disaster for the 38-year old QB. The good news is that all of his offensive weapons will be healthy, but he's still a risky start.

From RotoBaller

Gerald Everett Dec 13 5:50pm ET

Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett will miss his third straight outing Sunday versus the Dallas Cowboys due to a knee injury. Everetts absence will pave the way for Tyler Higbee to once again take over the primary tight end duties, which he has capitalized upon to deliver back-to-back 100-plus-yard efforts, putting him once again in line for TE1 status during season-long playoff matchups. After having combined for just three targets in his last two games played, Everetts next chance at suiting up comes next Saturday when the Rams take on the San Francisco 49ers, although there is no guarantee that Everett can reclaim his former starting status in the wake of Higbees explosive play.

From RotoBaller

Washington Redskins Dec 13 5:30pm ET

The Washington Redskins Defense has played well enough to win two of its last three games, and kept the third respectable in a tough road matchup with the Packers last week. Up next is an Eagles offense that has struggled at times to score points, and whose depth at WR will be tested with Alshon Jeffery out for the year and Nelson Agholor on the pessimistic side of questionable for this matchup. Washington pressures opposing quarterbacks at the NFL's third-highest rate, and ranks top-10 in turnover rate as well. If the Redskins can contain Philly's rushing attack and accomplish the more difficult task of holding Zach Ertz in check, there is a scenario in which this unit could return start-worthy fantasy value in a potentially low-scoring game. Search elsewhere if you can help it, but the Redskins could serve as a high-risk, high-reward last resort if you're scrambling.

From RotoBaller

Paul Richardson Dec 13 5:23pm ET

Washington Redskins WR Paul Richardson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Dec. 13, and has been ruled out for Week 15.

Fantasy Spin: Terry McLaurin will continue to be the main option in the passing game and should be the only Redskins receiver used in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Wil Lutz Dec 13 5:20pm ET

New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz could be busy against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. The 25-year-old has made at least two field goals in five straight games and at least four extra points in three of the last five. He'll face a Colts Defense that has given up 30-plus points in back-to-back games. Lutz should be able to stay hot in Week 15 and is a must-start.

From RotoBaller

Mike Evans Dec 13 5:13pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) did not practice all week and has been ruled out for Week 15 against the Detroit Lions. LB Anthony Nelson (hamstring) was limited in practice all week, while DL Beau Allen (ankle) did not practice Friday, Dec. 13; both players have also been ruled out. OT Donovan Smith (ankle, knee) did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful. OG Alex Cappa (elbow) and QB Jameis Winston (thumb, knee) practiced in full Friday and are listed as questionable. Ndamukong Suh (non-injury) did not practice Friday but is expected to play. OT Demar Dotson (non-injury), WR Scott Miller (hamstring) and LB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) practiced in full Friday and have been removed from the injury report.

From TheHuddle

Jordan Howard Dec 13 5:13pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) was limited during practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is listed as questionable for Week 15.

Fantasy Spin: Howard probably will be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his status. He has missed the last few weeks and probably would only receive a handful of carries if he plays. He can be avoided in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Jared Cook Dec 13 5:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook (concussion) gets a good matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. Cook was able to practice again today, this time without the non-contact jersey. He has a pretty good chance of suiting up on Monday night. What a game it was for Cook against the 49ers- he caught both of his passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with the injury. Cook and Drew Brees have been seeing eye-to-eye lately, resulting in at least six targets for Cook in three of his last five games. He has played himself into must-start territory at the thin tight end position and could be looking at another good game against the Colts' 22nd-ranked pass defense.

From RotoBaller

Kelvin Harmon Dec 13 5:10pm ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Harmon could benefit from a tough Eagles run defense on Sunday. While Washington clearly prefers to run the ball and limit what is asked of Dwayne Haskins through the air, the Redskins may not be able to get away with that game plan against a Philly defense holding opposing running backs under four yards per carry. As such, the matchup may force Washington's hand into a more pass-heavy approach than it's comfortable with. If that's how it plays out, Haskins can't just throw the ball exclusively to Terry McLaurin and Chris Thompson all day. Someone else will have to find a way to contribute, and Harmon's chances were fractionally increasing in the three games prior to last week's one-catch, four-target outing. The risk here speaks for itself, but there's at least the possibility that game script works in Harmon's favor this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Tom Brady Dec 13 5:03pm ET

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (elbow) fully participated in practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is not on the injury report for Week 15.

Fantasy Spin: Brady has not been as productive this season as he has been in the past but should have success against the Cincinnati Bengals. He can be considered a low-end No. 1 quarterback in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

T Y Hilton Dec 13 5:03pm ET

Indianapolis Colts OL CB Kenny Moore II (ankle) and OL Le'Raven Clark (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday, Dec. 13. CB Pierre Desir (groin) and WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) were limited.

From TheHuddle

Nelson Agholor Dec 13 5:03pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor (knee) did not participate in practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is listed as questionable for Week 15.

Fantasy Spin: Agholor missed all three practices this week and probably will not be able to play this week. Fantasy players should look for other options to use even if Agholor is active for the game.

From TheHuddle

Jared Cook Dec 13 5:03pm ET

New Orleans Saints LB Kiko Alonso (quad), OT Andrus Peat (forearm), S Vonn Bell (knee) and CB Patrick Robinson (calf) did not take part in practice for a second straight day Friday, Dec. 13. OT Terron Armstead (ankle), DE Cameron Jordan (abdomen), C Will Clapp (elbow), LB A.J. Klein (knee) and FB Zach Line (knee) were limited. TE Jared Cook (concussion) was upgraded to a full practice Friday, while QB Drew Brees (elbow) also participated in full.

From TheHuddle

Tre'Quan Smith Dec 13 5:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receivers Tre'Quan Smith and Ted Ginn both get favorable matchups against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. The problem is, neither has put together a consistent body of work this year. Smith caught his third touchdown of the year last week but hasn't seen more than four targets in a game this year. Ginn exceeded 50 yards for the first time since Week 1 last week. Both are boom-or-bust WR4 options for Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Terry McLaurin Dec 13 5:00pm ET

Washington Redskins wide receiver Terry McLaurin's Week 15 opponent is an Eagles Defense that has allowed opposing wideouts to average 14.75 yards per reception. Philly has also surrendered 18 touchdowns to the position, which is tied for the fourth-highest total in the league. As always, McLaurin's fantasy profile is limited by suspect quarterback play and an all-around below-average offense, but the Redskins' number-one WR carries some promise into this matchup. What's more, many fantasy owners are reeling from injuries to weekly starting options like Mike Evans, Marvin Jones, Calvin Ridley and D.J. Chark. If you find yourself among those afflicted by any of these casualties, there are worse replacements out there than McLaurin.

From RotoBaller

Mohamed Sanu Dec 13 4:53pm ET

New England Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is listed as questionable for Week 15.

Fantasy Spin: Sanu will have a favorable matchup if he is able to play this week. He has not been a big factor since joining the Patriots but could be at least a flex option in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Matthew Stafford Dec 13 4:53pm ET

Detroit Lions OG Joe Dahl (back, knee), LB Jarrad Davis (ankle, knee), DT A'Shawn Robinson (shoulder), QB Matthew Stafford (hip, back) and OT Ricky Wagner (knee) were unable to practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 15 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. DT John Atkins (illness) and RB Bo Scarbrough (ribs) did not practice Friday, Dec. 13, and are listed as questionable. LB Christian Jones (shoulder) was limited in practice all week and is also listed as questionable. DT Damon Harrison (calf, knee, shoulder, rest) was limited in practice Friday but has been removed from the injury report. CB Jamal Agnew (ankle), DE Austin Bryant (hip), P Sam Martin (abdomen) and CB Rashaan Melvin (ribs) practiced in full Friday and also no longer appear on the injury report.

From TheHuddle

Michael Thomas Dec 13 4:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas will face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. Thomas is coming off a great game against the 49ers' league-best pass defense, in which he saw a season-high 15 targets. Double-digit targets are a lock for Thomas again this week, considering how much stronger the Colts have been against the run than the pass. New Orleans may also be without tight end Jared Cook (concussion), which would free up some more targets for Thomas. Fantasy owners of the All-Pro receiver should have him locked into their lineups this week.

From RotoBaller

Chris Thompson Dec 13 4:50pm ET

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson's fantasy value for Week 15 is likely to hinge on whether or not Adrian Peterson is able to get anything going on the ground against the Eagles. Philly is one of the least friendly fantasy defenses for running backs, which lends itself to the idea that Peterson may struggle. If such is the case on Sunday, the Redskins may have to turn to Thompson as the pass-catcher in order to move the ball. Dwayne Haskins hasn't shown anything that indicates the Redskins should be ready to trust him to launch the ball downfield for an entire game, so Thompson could be set up for a decent PPR day in the short-range passing game if this contest breaks right for him. He's coming off an eight-target outing in Week 14. Thompson isn't without his fair share of risk, but there is a clear path to opportunity here for fantasy owners scrambling to find a flex option in PPR leagues.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Dec 13 4:43pm ET

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder) was limited during practice Friday, Dec. 13, and is listed as questionable for Week 15.

Fantasy Spin: Edelman will be in uniform this week despite being listed as questionable. He will continue to receive plenty of targets in the passing game and should be at least a No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle