NEW ORLEANS, DEC. 6 -- The New Orleans Saints got two touchdown passes from Bobby Hebert today, qualifying for the NFL playoffs for the first time with a 44-34 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The victory, coupled with losses by Philadelphia and St. Louis, assured the Saints, 9-3 in their 21st season, of no worse than a wild card spot in the playoffs. They had never had a winning season.

They kept the league's longest winning streak alive and set team records for victories in a season, nine, and consecutive victories, six.

The Buccaneers (4-7) have lost five straight games.

Vinny Testaverde fumbled on two of his first four plays as an NFL starter, giving the Saints an early lead they never relinquished. The first player taken in this year's draft, he fumbled on the third play of the game, when he was sacked by Frank Warren and Jim Wilks. Bruce Clark recovered on the Buccaneers' 19-yard line, and four plays later Hebert passed to John Tice for an eight-yard touchdown.

Testaverde fumbled the snap on the next play and Pat Swilling recovered at Tampa Bay's 38. Hebert ended another four-play drive with a six-yard pass to Tice.

Rueben Mayes scored on a seven-yard run in the second quarter and a two-yard run in the third quarter. Dalton Hilliard got a second-quarter touchdown on a three-yard run.

Morten Andersen kicked field goals of 40, 24 and 32 yards. Tampa Bay 7 3 10 14 34 New Orleans 14 14 10 6 44

First Quarter

NO -- Tice 8 pass from Hebert (Andersen kick), 3:41

NO -- Tice 6 pass from Hebert (Andersen kick), 6:09

TB -- Testaverde 1 run (Igwebuike kick), 12:29 Second Quarter

NO -- Mayes 7 run (Andersen kick), 4:04

NO -- Hilliard 3 run (Andersen kick), 7:20

TB -- FG Igwebuike 37, 12:47 Third Quarter

NO -- FG Andersen 40, 4:04

NO -- Mayes 2 run (Andersen kick), 6:49

TB -- Carrier 37 pass from Testaverde (Igwebuike kick), 9:40

TB -- FG Igwebuike 43, 14:35 Fourth Quarter

NO -- FG Andersen 24, 3:17

TB -- Hill 12 pass from Testaverde (Igwebuike kick), 5:11

NO -- FG Anderson 32, 11:26

TB -- Howard 2 run (Igwebuike kick), 13:04

A -- 66,471

Buccaneers Saints First downs 27 19 Rushes-yards 22-97 37-117 Passing yards 352 248 Return yards 24 134 Passing 22-47-2 16-24-0 Sacked-yards lost 3-17 1-7 Punts-average 3-41 4-45 Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1 Penalties-yards 4-20 6-58 Time of possession 25:14

RUSHING -- Tampa Bay: Smith 8-31, Wilder 6-30, Testaverde 5-19, B. Hill 1-9, Hunter 1-6, Howard 1-2. New Or

PASSING -- Tampa Bay: Testaverde 22-47-2, 369 yards. New Orleans: Hebert 16-24-0, 255.

RECEIVING -- Tampa Bay: Carrier 8-212, B. Hill 5-73, Wilder 4-33, Carter 2-25, Hall 1-12, Howard 1-8, McGee