Andy Dalton threw for 225 yards and a touchdown without an interception for New Orleans, but the Saints ultimately paid for having to settle for three field goals by Wil Lutz on drives deep into Bucs territory.
The Bucs (6-6) extended their division lead on the Atlanta Falcons to 1½ games. The last-place Saints (4-9) missed out on an opportunity to pull into a tie for second. None of the four teams in the NFC South has a winning record.
Brady, who before the game exchanged greetings with the biggest prize on this winter’s baseball free agent market, AL MVP Aaron Judge, finished 36 of 54 for 281 yards and two touchdowns.
Judge was on the sidelines before the game — posing for pictures, signing autographs and wearing a Mike Evans No. 13 Buccaneers jersey. The team also tweeted a short video of Brady greeting the slugger, who has an offseason home in Tampa, where the New York Yankees hold spring training.
A week after being shutout for the first time in 332 games, the Saints built a 10-3 halftime lead on Dalton’s 30-yard scoring pass to Taysom Hill and a 38-yard field goal set up by just the third interception Brady has thrown all season.
Demario Davis’ pick was also only the eighth takeaway by the New Orleans defense — by far a league-low — in 13 games. Defensive end Cameron Jordan later forced a fumble that the Saints turned into a 12-play, 7-minute, 20-second drive that Lutz finished with a 21-yard field goal, making it 13-3 late in the third quarter.
Tampa travels to San Francisco next Sunday.
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