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THE NFL / 1996

Look Who Has Won 3 in a Row

NFC: It's the Buccaneers, although latest victory comes against lowly Saints, 13-7.

November 25, 1996|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are slowly, but surely building a new identity.

The Buccaneers (4-8) won their third consecutive game Sunday, although it was against the hapless New Orleans Saints, 13-7. But the Buccaneers did show a blend of the same efficient offense and stingy defense that's helped them win four of seven after an 0-5 start.

Trent Dilfer threw for 253 yards and one touchdown, and Tampa Bay's defense extended its string of holding opponents to 17 or fewer points to seven consecutive games.

"It's another step forward for us," first-year Coach Tony Dungy said. "The last three weeks, we've been winning in the fourth quarter, and that's what championship teams need to do. In the long run, winning close games like these is going to help us."

New Orleans (2-10) has lost five in a row, four under interim Coach Rick Venturi. The Saints were moving toward a potential game-winning score in the fourth quarter, but Jim Everett's third interception killed the threat.

Mike Alstott scored on a 17-yard reception in the third quarter and Michael Husted kicked two first-half field goals for Tampa Bay, which out-gained New Orleans, 381 yards to 242.

Dilfer, coming off a career-best 327-yard passing day against San Diego, completed 20 of 34 attempts. Errict Rhett rushed for 87 yards in 21 carries and Alstott, a rookie fullback who is Tampa Bay's leading receiver, had seven catches for 91 yards.

"Our defense was just amazing. It flat-out won that football game," Dilfer said. "We didn't play that well on offense, to be honest. But when the defense keeps getting the ball for you over and over, good things are going to happen."

Everett completed 20 of 31 passes for 196 yards. He cut into Tampa Bay's 13-0 lead with a one-yard, third-quarter touchdown pass to Tony Johnson, but overthrew Torrance Small on the interception that stopped the Saints' best drive of the fourth quarter.

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