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Saints...24 Buccaneers...20

September 08, 2008|From the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees delivered on his pledge to give the Saints' storm-weary fans what he thought they deserved.

Brees passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, giving fans already jubilant about their team's quick return from Hurricane Gustav a 24-20 season-opening triumph to celebrate as well.

Tampa Bay had a shot to win the brutal, back-and-forth contest until Scott Fujita intercepted Jeff Garcia's fourth-down pass just inside the Saints' 20-yard line with just under 40 seconds to go.

Brees' scoring passes went for 39 yards to David Patten, 84 to Devery Henderson and 42 to Reggie Bush, with Bush's score putting the Saints in the lead for good in the fourth quarter.

Garcia was 24 of 41 for 221 yards, including a two-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard, which gave the Buccaneers a brief lead. The Buccaneers' defense got the team's only other touchdown, in the first quarter, when blitzing linebacker Barrett Ruud hit Brees as he threw, causing a fluttering pass that Phillip Buchanon intercepted and returned 26 yards.

Bush, who vowed to come back strong from a down second season, had 112 yards receiving and 51 yards rushing.

Quoteworthy: "Obviously, coming off a week where everyone was displaced from their homes here in New Orleans . . . it was awesome." -- Drew Brees, Saints quarterback

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