NEW ORLEANS -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used Josh Freeman's 2-yard touchdown pass to Dezmon Briscoe to grab a 10-7 lead over the New Orleans Saints at halftime of a regular-season finale at the Louisiana Superdome.
The worse news for the Saints, however, is that three key players have been sidelined by first-half injuries and are questionable to return.
The Saints (11-4) have already clinched a playoff berth, but they are likely to have to play in the wild-card round. The NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons used a touchdown late in the first half to build a 21-0 lead over the Carolina Panthers in Atlanta.
With a victory over Carolina, the Falcons (12-3) are guaranteed home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
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The Saints lost rookie tight end Jimmy Graham to an ankle injury with 4:41 left in the first quarter, after Graham caught Drew Brees' pass for a 4-yard touchdown to put the Saints in front 7-3. Second-year free safety Malcolm Jenkins had already been sidelined with a knee injury in the opening moments of the game. Rookie running back Chris Ivory left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury.
The Saints were already without fifth-year receiver Marques Colston, who was inactive for the game because of a knee injury, along with tight end Jeremy Shockey and running back Pierre Thomas.
If the Saints have to play in the wild-card round, they will face the NFC West winner, Seattle or St. Louis, on the road next weekend.
See sunherald.com for updates on the Saints. Complete coverage will be in Monday's editions.