TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushed back to take the lead with three seconds left to defeat the New Orleans Saints 17-16 on Monday Night Football.
The Bucs overcame the 16-3 deficit, hit two touchdowns with 3-03 in the finals, and swept the season series against their NFC South rivals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In a complete role reversal last week – when the Cleveland Browns trailed most of the game and came back to beat the Buccaneers in overtime – the Bucs (6-6) overcame a disastrous deficit and scored two late touchdowns to close the Saints defeat.
Quarterback Tom Brady connected with rookie tight end Cade Otton for a 1-yard touchdown to reduce the Saints’ lead to 16-10, then completed two passes to Julio Jones, Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller on the next possession to go with a 10-yard run by Leonard Fournette.
A holding call to left tackle Donovan Smith wiped out a Godwin touchdown in the back of the endzone, but Brady hit with running back Rachaad White for the 6-yard game winner. It was Brady’s 44th career comeback in the fourth quarter, breaking Peyton Manning’s record.
QB Breakdown: Without all-pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs, Brady not only struggled with deep ball but also with screen play. He also couldn’t explain about linebacker Demario Davis falling into cover, and he was picked off on a pass to Russell Gage, who put up a 38-yard field goal just before halftime. While it was only Brady’s third interception all season, it was his second time not counting a linebacker in coverage. Of course none of that mattered as Brady eventually led the two special drives to claim victory.
Worrying trend: The red zone continues to be a problem – if they can get there at all. And franchise leading wide receiver Mike Evans, who was targeted nine times and had just two catches last week, didn’t even see his number until 1:26 to go in the first half despite cornerback Marshon Lattimore being inactive. Brady and Evans combined early in the second half for a 22-yard play, but it was futile after White fumbled the ball.
key number: The Bucs’ weekly goal on defense is to keep their opponent to 17 points or less. That mark was on the money on Monday, but the offense’s inability to sometimes place points on the board has led to unrealistic expectations. However, Brady was able to save the game this time for a defense that was without several key players in their secondary: Antoine Winfield Jr., Sean Murphy-Bunting and Mike Edwards.
Stunning stats of NFL Next Gen Stats: Brady has had turnovers in all six regular-season games against the Saints since joining Tampa Bay in 2020 and now has 12 total against them. He has no more than three against any other team.
Next game: at the San Francisco 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Saints of New Orleans
The Saints watched their season go by in three minutes.
The Saints (4-9) were in control for most of the night in a crucial matchup against the Buccaneers that could have put them in contention for the NFC South division. But a costly 44-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Paulson Adebo put the Bucs at the Saints’ 1-yard line.
The Bucs scored and the Saints’ offense was unresponsive, essentially paving the way for the late comeback. Quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked for a 10-yard loss on second and 7 with 2:54 left, and then a pass was dropped to Taysom Hill for a potential first down on third and 17.
The Bucs then methodically drove through the field to score, shattering the Saints’ hopes of a winning record in coach Dennis Allen’s first season in that role — and also any dream of gaining foothold in the division last month grasp. The Saints have endured a string of tough losses this season and often lamented losing games due to their own mistakes, whether it be major penalties or turnovers.
That will certainly be the case with this one, as it likely dealt the final blow in their attempt to salvage the season.
“That was tough because we really had a chance to win that game and we didn’t finish it, we didn’t make it,” Allen said. “It stings. It sucks.”
QB Breakdown: While Dalton played well for most of the game, his string of road losses continues into prime time after the Saints failed to respond offensively towards the end of the game. Dalton completed 20 of 28 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown, but he picked up a sack on the team’s final offensive drive and was unsupported by his pass catchers as Hill dropped a deep throw that would have been a first down. Dalton didn’t make any big mistakes, but the Saints kicked too many field goals instead of getting into the end zone and couldn’t make it big when it mattered.
Rashid Shaheed’s breakout performance: Weber State’s undrafted rookie wide receiver is getting more and more opportunities on offense thanks to his blistering speed and return potential. Shaheed has done more than just Flash Monday, he’s proven nationally that he should be a weekly part of the offense. Shaheed not only returned a punt for 41 yards, but he was electric almost every time he caught the ball, finishing with a career-high four receptions for 71 yards. He was one of the bright spots for the struggling saints.
Promising trend: The Saints have been one of the worst teams in the league in terms of revenue differential all season, going into Monday with just two interceptions by defense. It took Brady to change that. Brady only had two interceptions in that game all season, but he’s been a prime target for picks against that defense since joining Tampa Bay in 2020. New Orleans picked him up once, taking his total as an A to nine interceptions against the Saints Buccaneer, and also forced a fumble. While it could be a sign that her fortunes are changing in this department, it also feels too little and too late to salvage her season.
Stunning stats of NFL Next Gen Stats: Hill’s 30-yard touchdown was the first TD he’s scored in 10 career games against the Buccaneers. He has never faced another team without a touchdown more than three times.
Next game: vs. Atlanta Falcons (1 p.m. ET, Dec. 18)
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/35192723/brady-leads-record-setting-comeback-buccaneers-top-saints Tom Brady leads record-setting comeback as Buccaneers take down Saints