TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 363 yards, including a 39-yard scoring pass to Chris Godwin with nine seconds remaining, to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers snap a five-game losing streak with a 31-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
The playoff-bound Saints (11-5) entered the day hoping to clinch their first NFC South championship in six years. They wound up winning the title anyway, with Carolina (11-5) losing its regular season finale at Atlanta.
Trailing 24-23 with 1:58 remaining, Winston moved the Bucs (5-11) 95 yards in 11 plays for the winning TD.
He converted a fourth-and-10 from his own 5 yard line with a 12-yard completion to Cameron Brate and threw 9 yards to Mike Evans on third-and-1 to keep the drive going at the Tampa Bay 35.
The fourth-year pro, who was intercepted three times, found Godwin racing up the right sideline just ahead of Saints cornerback Ken Crawley to put the Bucs ahead for good.
Alvin Kamara scored on a 106-yard kickoff return and had a second touchdown rushing for the Saints, who took a 24-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Zach Line caught a 3-yard TD pass from Drew Brees.
Patrick Murray, whose missed an extra point in the second quarter was the difference on the scoreboard when Winston launched the winning drive, made a 42-yard field goal to help the Bucs pull within 24-23 with four minutes left.
Kamara, who’s teamed with Mark Ingram to give New Orleans the only tandem in NFL history 1,500-plus scrimmage yards and more than 10 TDs in the same season, wiped out an early 7-0 deficit with his kickoff return.
The rookie’s 7-yard TD run on the Saints’ first offensive possession made it 14-7.
The touchdowns were the 13th and 14th of the season for Kamara, who has eight rushing and five receiving in addition to the second 100 yard-plus kickoff return for a TD allowed by Tampa Bay in two weeks.
Winston led a pair of 75-yard scoring drives in the opening half, but was also intercepted twice before halftime.
Brees turned one of the mistakes into the Saints’ first touchdown, throwing 43 yards to Michael Thomas to set up Kamara’s TD run that finished a 65-yard drive. The New Orleans finished 22 of 30 for 245 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Godwin has seven receptions for 111 yards. Adam Humphries had seven catches for 102 yards.
Saints: None reported during the game.
Buccaneers: S T.J. Ward left with a knee injury and did not play in the second half. … T Caleb Benenoch injured an ankle during the first half but returned. He limped off for good a sore knee in the second half.
Saints: First playoff appearance since 2013.
Buccaneers: Coach Dirk Koetter, who’s 13-18, was told before the finale that he will return for a third season.
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