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Ex-Saints DE Tapp says facing Brees is a ‘nightmare’

By Greg Auman
Saints QB Drew Brees, shown in a 2013 win against the Bucs, will face Tampa Bay for a record 24th time Sunday, the most ever for an opposing quarterback. (TIMES ARCHIVES)

Defensive end Darryl Tapp could make his Bucs debut on Sunday against a team he knows well — he played all of last season with the Saints, and was on their roster until final cuts in September.

He's not surprised to see New Orleans at 5-2 and leading the NFC South.

"Coach (Sean) Payton is probably one of the best in the league," said Tapp, who joined the Bucs last week but didn't play in Sunday's game at Buffalo. "They've got a roster that can make a lot of things happen, a good mixture of veterans and young guys. They feed off each other. It's no surprise that they're rolling right now."

Saints QB Drew Brees leads the NFL in completing 70.6 percent of his passes, and ranks sixth in QB rating, with 11 touchdowns against four interceptions. The Bucs have split their series with New Orleans in each of the last two seasons — Brees and the Saints had won seven straight before that. Tapp said he knows the challenge of containing that offense.

"It's a nightmare," Tapp said. "No. 9 is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He always has that confidence about him, always has that swagger, never gets rattled. For us, on the defense, we have to make sure we're on our P's and Q's, can't go rogue. We really have to stay true to what our scheme requires us to do, then go out there and make plays."

The Bucs defense took a big step against Brees last year — for 10 straight seasons from 2006-15, he had at least three touchdown passes combined in his two games against Tampa Bay, but totaled just one in last year's split. Tampa Bay's 16-11 win in the first meeting last year saw Brees throw three interceptions with no touchdowns, and his 48.5 quarterback rating is his worst in any game in the last four years.

When Brees plays Sunday, it will be his 24th career game against the Bucs, breaking the record he currently shares with Brett Favre for the most by an opposing quarterback. Brees holds the career records for most passing yards (6,490), passing touchdowns (45) and interceptions (26). Should he win, he'll pass Favre (15) for most wins against Tampa Bay as a starting quarterback as well.