Saints cruise past Bucs, improve to 10-0

Michael Tortorich
WR Robert Meachem scores the first of his two touchdowns during the first quarter on a four-yard pass from Drew Brees

TAMPA - Make room for a perfect 10...10-0, that is.

The New Orleans Saints improved to 10-0 for the first time in team history and recorded their first-ever 10-game winning streak Sunday as they routed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 38-7, at Raymond James Stadium.

New Orleans and the Indianapolis Colts are both 10-0, the only two undefeated teams in the NFL.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes, as two went to wide receiver Robert Meachem and one to tight end David Thomas.

Running back Mike Bell ran for two touchdowns as the Saints scored 38 unanswered points after the Bucs took the initial 7-0 lead.

The Saints defense intercepted three passes and forced a fumble. The Saints offense capitalized with 17 points off of turnovers.

New Orleans now holds a five-game lead at the top of the NFC South division, as the Atlanta Falcons (5-5) lost in overtime to the New York Giants, 34-31. Tampa fell to 1-9 with the loss.

Saints coach Sean Payton credited the players who "stepped up" to fill in for injured starters like both cornerbacks, Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter, defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, wide receiver Lance Moore and running back Reggie Bush.

"Any time you can go on the road and win a game in your division is big," Payton said.

Bucs rookie quarterback Josh Freeman suffered through 17-of-33 passing for 126 yards and three interceptions. Jonathan Vilma, Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Reis each picked off passes.

The Bucs drove 95 yards for a touchdown on their opening possession. Freeman threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to former LSU standout Michael Clayton to account for the Bucs' lone score.

Brees completed 19 of 29 passes for 187 yards before backup Mark Brunell and other second-team players entered the game late in the fourth quarter.

With Bush sidelined, Bell and Pierre Thomas paced the Saints' rushing attack. Thomas had 92 yards on 11 carries, while Bell tallied 75 yards on 13 tries.

Wide receiver Marques Colston led the Saints in receiving with five catches for 74 yards.

Thomas and tight end Jeremy Shockey had four and two catches, respectively.

Bucs running back Carnell Williams needed only 32 rushing yards to lead the team.

New Orleans will host the New England Patriots next week in a Monday Night Football match-up at the Louisiana Superdome.