TAMPA, Fla. (WVUE) – Whenever future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady decides to hang up his cleats for good, it’s a certainty that playing the Saints won’t be among the things he misses most from his NFL career.
But football’s unquestioned master of the final scoring drive finally shook the New Orleans monkey off his back Monday night (Dec. 5) at Raymond James Stadium. Brady and the Buccaneers stormed back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to beat the Saints, 17-16.
“Really proud of our team for hanging in there against a team we always struggle with,” Brady said.
Their stunning collapse in the game’s final eight minutes left the Saints with a 4-9 record and at the bottom of the NFC South. Their faint playoff hopes were all but dashed. With four games remaining, they are now assured of a losing record — their first since 2016 — in Dennis Allen’s first season as head coach, leaving the organization with much to evaluate during its upcoming bye week.
Since Brady joined the Buccaneers ahead of the 2020 season, he was 28-11 against the rest of the NFL but 1-4 against the Saints in regular-season games — before Monday night’s comeback. Brady also led Tampa Bay to a playoff victory over New Orleans en route to his seventh Super Bowl championship in 2020-21.
The Saints couldn’t run out the clock and surrendered the ball to Brady with 2:29 left in the game, trailing 16-10. The future Hall of Famer marched the Bucs 63 yards in 11 plays, capping the game-winning drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to running back Rachaad White. Ryan Succop’s extra point put Tampa up 17-16 with three seconds left, the Bucs’ first lead since the first quarter.
The Saints entered Monday with the fewest takeaways (seven) and interceptions (two) in the NFL this season, but forced two turnovers. Linebacker DeMario Davis intercepted a Brady pass, and defensive end Cam Jordan stripped a ball from White and Carl Granderson recovered the fumble for the Saints.
Tampa Bay got on the board first with a 21-yard field goal by Succop with 6:29 left in the first quarter.
The Saints answered with two second-quarter scores. They took a 7-3 lead when quarterback Andy Dalton hit tight end Taysom Hill for a 30-yard touchdown with 7:41 left in the quarter. New Orleans stretched the lead to 10-3 just before halftime when Wil Lutz knocked through a 38-yard field goal with 25 seconds to play.
Another Lutz field goal — this time a 21-yard chip shot — gave the Saints a 13-3 advantage with 2:49 to play in the third quarter. Lutz hit another one from 29 yards out for a 16-3 lead with 8:06 left in the fourth period.
But their lack of touchdown drives left the Saints in jeopardy in those final minutes, however.
Brady took the Bucs 91 yards down the field in 2:21, finding tight end Cade Otton for a 1-yard TD pass. The scoring drive, aided by a 44-yard pass interference penalty against Paulson Adebo as he grabbed at receiver Mike Evans, brought Tampa Bay within 16-10 with three minutes to play.
New Orleans, which managed only 66 rushing yards, went three-and-out against the Bucs’ defense, with Dalton taking a 10-yard loss when he was sacked on second down.
“It makes it tough, because I felt like we really had an opportunity to win this game,” Allen said. “But we didn’t finish, we didn’t get it done. It stings. It sucks.
“When you play Tom Brady and you have a chance to put him away, you have to put him away. And we didn’t put him away.”
The final push down the field was the 44th game-winning drive by Brady in the fourth quarter or overtime, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.
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