But the final drive was the most disturbing, since the Saints had the Bucs down to a fourth-and-10 from their own 5-yard line before allowing them to march all the way down the field for the game-winning score.
But the Saints (11-5) still won the NFC South as Carolina (11-5) fell to Atlanta, 22-10, and lost the tiebreaker to New Orleans because of two losses to the Saints.
Tampa Bay had rallied for a fourth-quarter lead, only to see the Saints grab the lead back. Isaiah Johnson scooped up the loose ball and returned it 7 yards for a touchdown and a 20-17 lead with 14:04 left.
New Orleans, bidding for a 12-4 regular season finish, faked its first field goal of the season late in the first half on a fourth-and-five play from the Tampa Bay 30-yard line.
New Orleans struggled at times in every unit. The return is the longest scoring play in Saints history.More news: Korea Seizes Second Ship Suspected Of Transporting Oil To N. Korea
Brees also helped put some points on the scoreboard for the Saints, finding Zack Line for a 3-yard touchdown.
Kamara scored again later in the quarter on a 7-yard run.
Saints: First playoff appearance since 2013. This time a 7-yard touchdown run, staking the Black and Gold to a 14-7 advantage.
Fortunately for the Saints, they still have electrifying rookie Alvin Kamara - who had one of his best performances to date with a 106-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 7-yard TD run and 128 total yards from scrimmage. Saints safety Marcus Williams intercepted Winston at the Saints' 35 to set up the drive. Murray missed the extra point wide right.