Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark LoMoglio/AP/Shutterstock (13651435ds) Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a touchdown pass to tight end Cade Otton in the second half of an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla Saints Buccaneers Football, Tampa, United States – 05 Dec 2022
Buccaneers 17, Saints 16
The New Orleans Saints have arguably been the most successful defense in the NFL at dealing with Tom Brady since his arrival in Tampa Bay, winning four of five against Brady’s Bucs and holding the veteran quarterback to just 190 yards passing back in Week 2. Still, the Buccaneers won that game 20-10 and entered Monday night with a game-and-a-half lead over New Orleans in the standings of the weak NFC South.
The Buccaneers’ offense has put up gaudy passing numbers all season and rarely turned the football over. The offense’s production has not equaled a high volume of points, however, largely due to an inability to consistently convert red zone trips into touchdowns. It was no surprise, then, that Tampa Bay’s first possession – a beautiful, 16-play drive that saw it work its way inside the Saints 5-yard line – ended in a field goal and just a 3-0 lead.
While the Buccaneers turn the football over less often than any team in the league, New Orleans entered Week 13 having turned the ball over 21 times – the most in the NFL. As a result, the Saints’ offense has struggled to gain consistent footing, and the team has struggled to win games. Andy Dalton and the Saints managed to take better care of the football throughout the first half Monday night and broke through midway through the second quarter on Dalton’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Taysom Hill for a 7-3 lead. New Orleans continued to build momentum from there, picking up a defensive stop followed by Rashid Shaheed’s punt return into Bucs’ territory. But after three plays accounted for 4 lost yards, the Saints were forced to punt.
The Buccaneers’ offense struggled for the remainder of the first half, largely due to Tom Brady’s inability to pass downfield accurately. Demario Davis added insult to Brady’s ugly half with just over one minute to go, intercepting the veteran to give New Orleans another opportunity in Tampa Bay territory. Wil Lutz drilled a 38-yard field goal in the first half’s final moments, sending the game into the intermission with New Orleans ahead 10-3.
Tampa Bay’s second turnover of the game ended its first possession of the second half, a fumble by Rachaad White adding to the frustration of Tampa’s struggling offense. New Orleans marched the ball downfield 66 yards from there but ultimately stalled out inside the Buccaneers 5-yard line. Wil Lutz converted his second field goal of the night with 2:46 to go in the third quarter, pushing New Orleans’ lead to 13-3. Lutz connected on another field goal midway through the fourth quarter, pushing Tampa Bay to the brink down 16-3. On the ensuing drive, the frustrated crowd at Raymond James Stadium rained down boos with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter as Tampa Bay punted for the fifth time after coming up empty for an eighth straight possession.
The Bucs finally found the end zone with three minutes left in the game, capping off a pass interference-aided 91-yard drive with a 1-yard pass from Tom Brady to Cade Otton to make it 16-10. Just three plays later, the Saints were punting the ball back to the suddenly-rejuvenated Bucs with still 2:23 to play.
Like he’s done so many times before, Tom Brady quickly led his offense downfield with a flurry of completed passes and excellent time management. After what appeared to be a touchdown pass to Chris Godwin was called back due to holding, the Buccaneers were left with three plays from the Saints’ 10-yard line needing a touchdown. With just three seconds left, it was Tom Brady’s touchdown pass to Rachaad White that completed the thrilling comeback, giving the Buccaneers the 17-16 win and improving their record to 6-6.
The 13-point fourth-quarter comeback was the second such feat of Brady’s career, his only other comeback of that stature leading the Patriots over the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. The touchdown pass to Rachaad White with just three seconds to go was also the latest game-winning touchdown pass of Tom Brady’s illustrious career, adding yet another moment to a Hall-of-Fame career full of them.