Looking for a win before the bye, the Bucs were instead foiled by the Saints in a 36-27 loss. After a game where it seemed Tampa had cleaned up penalties, mistakes reared their ugly head again. The Bucs had 11 penalties on the night. Officiating was horrendous in the Bucs loss, but mental mistakes and turnovers put them in an early hole. A comeback bid was thwarted by a game-clinching interception by the Saints defense.
Tom Brady had yet another 4-touchdown performance, the most in NFL History, but had three turnovers. He finished the game 27-36 for 364 yards, a fumble and two interceptions. Godwin was terrific in the game, catching eight passes for 140 yards and a score. The run game was shut down to the tune of just 71 yards, while the defense only managed one sack and no turnovers.
First Half Struggles
The Bucs offense wasn’t able to get much going on their first drive of the game, going three-and-out. A huge stop on fourth down by the Bucs defense gave them the ball right back. The second drive would be different. Brady took them down the field in six plays, connecting with Chris Godwin for the 12-yard score.
The Saints answered back with a touchdown of their own. Jameis Winston found Tre’Quan Smith 16 yards out for the tying score. The Bucs marched into Saints territory, but a missed connection on third down, which prompted a punt from the 40-yard line. On the ensuing Saints drive, Winston escaped a sack by Shaq Barrett and was pulled down by Devin White. Winston went down awkwardly and left the game with a knee injury. Trevor Siemian replaced Winston and the Bucs defense forced a punt.
Tampa’s next possession started off well with big completions to Godwin and Tyler Johnson to move the chains, but a Cam Jordan strip sack ended the drive. Behind the help of some questionable calls by the referees, New Orleans got down to the five-yard line. The Bucs defense came up with a big stop and held the Saints to a field goal.
After a big gain by Giovani Bernard, Brady was intercepted by C.J. Gardner-Johnson. New Orleans capitalized on Brady’s second turnover with a 1-yard touchdown catch by Alex Armah. A missed extra point made it a 16-7 Saints lead going into halftime.
Second Half Comeback
A 38-yard gain by Kevin White on the first throw of the drive set the Saints up in Bucs’ territory. Nine plays later, Alvin Kamara walked into the end zone from one-yard out for a 23-7 lead. In response, a 44-yard gain by Godwin set the Bucs up at the 13-yard line. Brady found Bernard for the 7-yard touchdown catch a few plays later.
A sack by Ndamukong Suh, and a batted pass by Jason Pierre-Paul helped end the Saints next drive. After the punt, Mike Evans made his presence felt with a 41-yard touchdown reception, beating Marshon Lattimore in coverage. Tampa’s defense then forced another punt to put the offense back out on the field. The Bucs couldn’t convert after a tough penalty pushed them back, and punted.
Penalties again helped the Saints down the field for another New Orleans field goal and a 26-21 lead. Brady got his chance at a rebuttal, delivering a 50-yard bomb to Cyril Grayson – who was wide open after a busted coverage. The long score gave the Bucs a 27-26 lead with over five minutes left to play.
But Tampa Bay’s defense still couldn’t hold. New Orleans drove down and drilled a field goal with 1:41 left in the game to take a 29-27 lead. With the game on the line, Brady threw a pick-six to P.J. Williams giving the Saints a 36-27 win.