NEW ORLEANS — Rookie running back Alvin Kamara scored two touchdowns and accounted for a career-high 152 yards from scrimmage and a rejuvenated New Orleans defense held Tampa Bay out of the end zone for 53 minutes to power the Saints to their sixth consecutive victory, 30-10, over the Buccaneers on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints became the third team in the Super Bowl era to win six in a row after an 0-2 start and the other two — the 1993 Cowboys and 2007 Giants — would go on to win the championship.
New Orleans visits the Bills next Sunday at New Era Field (1 p.m.).
"We're still striving to play our best, and I don't think we've achieved that yet," quarterback Drew Brees said. "We're continuing to make strides in the right direction. There's still a lot of things we can do better. The road only gets tougher."
In dominating the game, the Saints (6-2) knocked out Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston late in the first half. Winston entered the game with a sore right shoulder, and he aggravated the injury after being slammed to the turf by defensive end Alex Oakfor. Winston finished 7-of-13 passes for 67 yards, but his longest pass went for 14 yards.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) November 5, 2017
Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Winston in the second half but could not generate any offense. The Saints outgained the Bucs 407-200. Tampa Bay (2-6) lost its fifth consecutive game.
Kamara scored on a 33-yard screen pass and a 6-yard run, and he finished with 84 yards on six receptions and 68 yards rushing on 10 carries. Brees (22 of 27 for 263 yards), also threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. early in the third quarter as New Orleans took a 30-3 lead.
The Saints have won even though they have committed nine turnovers in their last four games.
"With each game, you're hopefully getting better as a team, but there are a number of things we've got to be better at," coach Sean Payton said. "We got to be able to catch a punt without it being a fire drill. But I'm encouraged by some of these young guys.
"I think we've got really good leadership throughout the locker room, and when you start winning some games, you start wanting to play for each other more than for yourself. That's always a challenge in today's game. I like that. We talked about that a little bit this week."
Tensions ran high in the third quarter when Winston, already out of the game, pushed Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore from the sideline, and when Lattimore turned around, Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans slammed into Lattimore from the back, sparking a brief brawl. Evans was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty but stayed in the game.
The Saints' defense suffocated the anemic Tampa Bay offense in the first half. The Bucs managed just one field goal — from 50 yards by Patrick Murray — as the Saints took a 16-3 halftime lead.
The Saints broke on top with a 40-yard field goal by Wil Lutz, which capped off a 12-play, 58-yard opening drive. Brees was 6 of 7 for 48 yards on the drive.
New Orleans widened its lead to 9-0 when rookie cornerback Justin Hardee exploded through the middle of the Bucs' punt blocking team to easily block Bryan Anger's punt at the Tampa Bay 20. The ball bounced high into the air and directly into Hardee's arms at the 7-yard line, and he raced in untouched. Tampa Bay blocked the extra punt to keep the score 9-0.
"They blocked down, they left me free," Hardee said. "I saw a clear path. I was so surprised that it was so clear. Coaches talked about it all week. I was just so glad I was in the position. I had enough speed to get to the ball."
The Saints appeared headed for more points, but Kamara fumbled on a strip tackle by linebacker Davonte David at the Bucs 28, leading to Tampa Bay's only points of the half on Murray's field goal.
Kamara atoned for his miscue late in the half. Playing a first-and-10 at the Tampa 33, Brees flipped a screen pass to Kamara in the left flat. Kamara tiptoed down the left sidelined, spun off a tackle by safety Justin Evans at the Tampa 13 and waltzed into the end zone for a 16-3 lead.
NOTES: Tampa Bay DE William Gholston was carted off the field with a neck injury in the third quarter. ... Steve Gleason, who made the most famous punt block in Saints history when he broke through to block an Atlanta Falcons' punt in the Saints' first game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, tweeted after the first-quarter punt block by rookie CB Justin Hardee: "#neverpunt BUCS." ... The Bucs averaged just 3.1 yards a play in the first half, compiling 88 yards on 28 plays. ... QB Drew Brees pounded the turf in anger after overthrowing Ted Ginn Jr. on what would have been an 87-yard TD connection in the first quarter