NFL: Tom Brady, Buccaneers try to solve riddle of the Saints
The New Orleans Saints have had a lot of success against Tampa Bay since Tom Brady joined the Buccaneers in 2020.
They are 4-0 in the regular season, though the Buccaneers won a Divisional playoff game after the 2020 season. The Saints have won seven straight in the regular season going into the matchup between the NFC South rivals Sunday in New Orleans.
“We play extremely hard against those guys because we know it’s a huge challenge every time we go against them,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “They have an extremely talented offense and the best quarterback to ever play the game.
“Every opportunity is a different deal. We’ve got to focus on what we’re dealing with this year.”
Both teams won their season openers. Tampa Bay had one of the more impressive performances last weekend as they beat the Cowboys 19-3 in Dallas and were the only team in the NFL to not allow a touchdown.
The Saints had one of sloppiest performances while still winning last week, falling behind 26-10 in Atlanta before staging the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history to prevail 27-26.
“We’re going to have to play much better this week if we expect to win,” Allen said.
Each of the four victories against Brady has been by at least nine points. That includes the most-lopsided loss of Brady’s 23-year career (38-3 in Tampa in 2020) and the first shutout of a team led by Brady (9-0) in 15 years, last season in Tampa.
In those four games, Brady completed just 61 percent of his passes for an average of 259 yards with six touchdowns, eight interceptions and two lost fumbles. He was sacked 13 times.
Brady’s counterpart, Jameis Winston, will be facing the organization that he played with from 2015-19. He suffered a season-ending knee injury against Tampa Bay in the seventh game of last season.
Allen, whose win last week came in his first game as a successor to Sean Payton, was acting head coach for the shutout against the Bucs last season because Payton was sidelined by COVID-19.
Tampa also is transitioning from a coach that led it to a Super Bowl (Bruce Arians in Brady’s first season) and was succeeded by his defensive coordinator (Todd Bowles).
“We try to look at more film on anybody we lose to, whether it’s the offseason or during the season,” Bowles said. “Any time you lose to a team more than once or twice, you try to put a finger on why on what they’re trying to do and what you’re doing and what you can do different.”
Leonard Fournette rushed for 127 yards for Tampa Bay against Dallas and he’ll go against a New Orleans defense that allowed 201 rushing yards last week, including 120 by Cordarrelle Patterson.
“It’s easy to block for a guy like that,” Bucs offensive lineman Shaq Mason said of Fournette. “You know he’s going to give everything he’s got on every run and he was running angry (against the Cowboys).”
Both teams had lengthy practice reports Wednesday, but the only Saint to miss practice entirely was starting cornerback Paulson Adebo, who missed the opener because of an ankle injury.
Six Bucs did not participate, though Brady’s absence was for rest. Three others were wide receivers — Chris Godwin (hamstring), Julio Jones (knee) and Russell Gage (hamsting) — and starting left tackle Donovan Smith did not participate because of an elbow injury that forced him out of the opener.
–Field Level Media