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Injuries take toll as Bucs get blanked, fail to clinch

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is helped off the field after getting hurt against the New Orleans Saints during the second ha...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) can't hang onto a pass after getting hit by New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) duri...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) gets hit by New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) after a reception during the first...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts as he walks off the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orlean...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians gestures during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Dec. 19, 20...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) leaves the field with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after the team lost to the New Orleans Sain...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) leaves the field after the team lost to the New Orleans Saints during an NFL football game Sunday, D...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is helped off the field after getting hurt against the New Orleans Saints during the second ha...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) can't hang onto a pass after getting hit by New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) duri...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) gets hit by New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) after a reception during the first...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts as he walks off the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orlean...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians gestures during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Dec. 19, 20...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) leaves the field with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after the team lost to the New Orleans Sain...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) leaves the field after the team lost to the New Orleans Saints during an NFL football game Sunday, D...

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians had bigger concerns Sunday night than the Buccaneers failing to clinch their first division title since 2007.

The list of players injured in a 9-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints included wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, and running back Leonard Fournette.

“It hurts more losing all the players we lost,” Arians said. “We lost about seven starters in this game.”

Godwin (knee) and Evans (hamstring) left in the second quarter. Fournette (hamstring) exited in the third.

“A lot of guys got banged up tonight but that’s part of football,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “So, got to try and figure out who can go in and fill in some roles and play great football.”

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David also left after injuring his foot.

Arians had no postgame updates on the injuries.

New Orleans (7-7) beat the Bucs (10-4) for the seventh straight time during the regular season — fourth since Brady left New England for Tampa Bay in 2020.

“They’ve got a really good defense, really good scheme, tough to go against,” said Brady, who threw a tablet to the ground in frustration while sitting on the bench late in the game.

The Bucs, who did win a playoff game at New Orleans last January en route to their Super Bowl title, lead the NFC South by three games with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

New Orleans shut down the NFL’s No. 1 passing and scoring offense, and ended Brady’s streak of 255 consecutive starts (including playoff games) without being shut out.

“Between the offense and the kicking game, it cost us the game,” Arians said. “The defense played good enough to win.”

Tampa Bay outgained the Saints 302-212. New Orleans had just 11 first downs and was 3 of 18 (18.8%) on third-down conversions.

But three field goals by Brett Maher provided the margin of victory for the Saints.

The Buccaneers will get some reinforcements for next Sunday’s game at Carolina. Wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Mike Edwards both served the final game of three-game suspensions Sunday for using fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

Arians said the team is welcoming the pair back.

“It’s in the best interest of our football team,” Arians said. “Both those guys have served their time.”

NOTES: Bucs S Jordan Whitehead returned to the lineup after missing two games, but S Antoine Winfield Jr. (foot), CB Jamel Dean (illness) and CB Richard Sherman (Achilles) were inactive. ... Fournette led the Bucs with seven receptions for 33 yards. Godwin had six catches for 49 yards.

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