The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted to finish their season strong, and started the game in that very fashion, driving right down the field against the New Orleans Saints defense, before Peyton Barber eventually punched it in from the 1-yard-line to put the Bucs ahead 7-0 after a Pat Murray extra point to start the game.
As positive as the start was for the offense, the special teams dropped the ball immediately, allowing Saints rookie back Alvin Kamara to take the ensuing kickoff back to the house to tie the game at 7-7 with just over five minutes off the board in quarter number one.
The Buccaneers next drive moved into Saints territory once again, but Winston threw his second ill-advised pass of the game, but this time Marcus Williams was able to come down with it, pulling in the interception at the New Orleans 35-yard-line.
It didn’t take long before a big pass from Drew Brees had the Saints back in position to put points on the board, and it was only moments before Kamara was in the end zone giving the Saints a 14-7 lead.
After the teams exchanged punts, the Bucs began moving the ball again on the back of a Peyton Barber who carried the rock very well on a drive that ended with Winston fighting his way over the goal line on a scramble play, and the Saints holding onto a 1-point lead after Murray missed the extra point.
It looked as if the Saints were once again on their way to putting points on the board, but they decided to fake a field goal instead of a long attempt at adding three more points, and Will Clarke came up with a stop just shy of the yard to gain to give the ball back to Winston and the offense with just over two minutes to play.
Just after the 2-minute-warning, Winston was looking for Barber out of the backfield when he left the ball short to be intercepted by Craig Robertson. The half would end with the Saints ahead 14-13 after each team failed to score late in the half.
The Saint started the second half with the football, but as they neared midfield, a third down sack of Brees by Ryan Russell ended the drive. The Buccaneers first drive of the second half looked like it would be more successful as they moved deep into Saints territory when Winston found a wide-open Adam Humphries, but Winston finished the drive off by getting away from pressure and throwing the ball into coverage, and Marcus Williams came away with his second interception of the game to keep the score 14-13.
The Saints got the ball back into Bucs territory the following drive when Brees found Kamara for 40 plus yards on a deep pass down the sideline, but the Bucs were able to stall the drive, in part thanks to Saints offensive penalties and a great play by Lavonte David, and the Saints would send Wil Lutz in for a 48-yard field goal to stretch the New Orleans lead to 17-13 with just under three minutes remaining in the third.
After another unsuccessful drive, the Bucs were forced to punt the ball back to the Saints who would have a chance to extend their four-point lead, but Josh Robinson made a great play to strip Tommy Lee Thomas, and it was scooped up by Isaiah Johnson who took it into the end zone to put the Bucs ahead 20-17.
The Buccaneers new-found lead wouldn’t last long as Brees quickly navigated his Saints down the field, and into the end zone when he found Zach Line for the go-ahead score, giving the Saints a 24-20 lead.
The Bucs were able to get the ball into Saints territory pretty quickly, with Chris Godwin coming up with a big play. The Saints defense finally forced the Bucs to attempt a 42-yard field goal to cut the Saints lead to 24-23 with about four and a half minutes to play.
The Bucs would get the Saints off the field in time for one final attempt at another victory to close out 2017, but the offense would need to get into field goal position without at timeout, and starting from their own 5-yard-line if they wanted to pull off a last-second victory. The drive almost ended as quickly as it began as Winston threw into triple coverage and was almost picked off on the first play. On third down the officials missed a blatant pass interference call, but Winston was able to extend the drive on 4th-and-10. Winston continued to work the ball to Evans and pick up first downs as the game was drawing to a close, and had a 1st-and-10 at the Saints 49-yard-line with 37 seconds left to play, and needing only a field goal to go ahead. Finally Winston found Chris Godwin with just nine seconds remaining for a 39-yard touchdown. A 2-point conversion later, the Bucs were ahead 31-24, and Bucs players and fans were able to go home with one last victory in 2017!