NEW ORLEANS – A botched trick play may have cost the New Orleans Saints their season.

Devery Henderson fumbled a late, awkward toss from Reggie Bush, allowing substitute starting quarterback Luke McCown to drive Tampa Bay for a touchdown with 17 seconds left that lifted the Buccaneers to a 27-23 victory on Sunday.

The winning score was a quick four-yard pass to Jerramy Stevens, who had to outleap Jason Craft to make the catch.

The victory gave Tampa Bay (8-4) a comfortable three-game lead in the NFC South Division with only four games left, while the Saints (5-7) probably have to win out to even have a chance at a wild-card playoff berth.

The Saints may have thought they got a break when Tampa Bay starter Jeff Garcia was kept out of the game with a bruised lower back.

McCown had other ideas. He completed his first 15 passes and wound up 29-of-37 for 313 yards and two touchdowns.

AP-ES-12-02-07 1937EST


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