Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints: Tom Brady Leads Two Late Touchdown Drives to Sweep NFC South Rival
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the New Orleans Saints 17-16 to keep their hold of first place in the NFC South. And while the result was what you expected, it wasn’t without drama.
Control has become the buzzword for the Bucs, as they attempt to make it to the postseason for the third time in a row.
Tampa Bay started the game with control.
Opening up the night with a 16 play drive that covered 72 yards of offense and more than 8: 30 off the first quarter clock, the Buccaneers started physical and took an early lead with Ryan Succop’s 21 yard field goal. The defense of the Bucs came out to try to take control of the Saints’ offense. They forced their opponent to go three on their first drive.
The drive ended in New Orleans’ punt. But then, the wheels fell off.
On Saints’ third possession, quarterback Andy Dalton drove his team downfield in just eight plays to score a touchdown pass to Taysom Hill.
The touchdown pass was from 30 yards out, and was Dalton’s second explosive pass that drive following a 20 yard connection with tight end Adam Trautman. The score and drive gave the Saints a 7-3 lead over Tampa Bay by the end of the second quarter.
New Orleans expanded that lead to seven after Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception to linebacker Demario Davis, allowing Dalton to setup his kicker Will Lutz for a 38 yard field goal with less than a minute remaining.
At halftime, the Saints led the Bucs, 10-3.
For Tampa Bay the second half didn’t get started much better than the first one ended.
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While the Buccaneers’ defense forced a three and out for the third time to open the half, their own opening possession ended on a fumble by running back Rachaad White.
The Bucs’ second turnover of the game turned into Lutz’s second field goal for the Saints, and their lead swelled to 10 before the two teams entered the fourth quarter of play.
While Tampa Bay’s offense continued to flounder on their home field, their opponent was able to add another field goal to make the lead 16-3 with less than seven minutes left in regulation.
Signs of life appeared in the fourth quarter, when Brady found a rookie tight end for a touchdown of one yard with three minutes left in the game.
After Succop’s extra touchdown, the score was slashed to six. The crowd of Buccaneers fans suddenly came alive to cheer on their team and support them in victory.
Needing to get their offense the ball back, the Bucs defense came up with their fifth three and out of the game, and Brady got his chance to take a fourth quarter lead with 2: 29 remaining in the game and a timeout in his back pocket.
He needed almost all of it.
With three seconds remaining in the game, Brady found his rookie runningback who had earlier fumbled.
Together, they completed a six yard touchdown, and with Succops extra point the Buccaneers completed a roller coaster 17-16 win over the Saints.
Tampa Bay moves up to 6-6 for the year, and remains in first place in NFC South.
New Orleans falls to 4-9 and have been swept by the Bucs for the first time since the 2007 NFL season.
Stick with BucsGameday and the Locked On Bucs podcast for more coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throughout the season.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.