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Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and Tom Brady was intercepted three times as the Bucs were embarrassed by the Saints 38-3 in a nationally televised game Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium.
New Orleans (6-2) moved into first place in the NFC South and earned the tiebreaker advantage by sweeping the season series.
Tampa Bay (6-3) slipped into second place, 1/2 game back.
Brady completed 22 of 38 passes for 209 yards and three interceptions as the Bucs fell behind 31-0 at halftime. He was sacked three times, twice by Trey Hendrickson.
Antonio Brown was targeted five times in his first game as a Buc, catching three passes for 31 yards.
Brees finished 26 of 32 for 222 yards and four touchdowns. Taysom Hill passed for 48 yards and ran for 54. Jameis Winston completed his one attempt for 12 yards in mop-up duty.
Twelve different Saints receivers caught passes in the game.
The Bucs were outgained 420-194 in the game, including 138-8 on the ground.
Jameis Winston enters the game
Former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston entered the game with just under six minutes remaining as the Saints, leading by 35, gave Drew Brees the rest of the night off.
Winston completed a 12-yard pass to fullback Mike Burton on his first attempt.
Running back Dwayne Washington did most of the work on the drive, as New Orleans drove from its 30 to the Tampa Bay 39 at the two-minute warning.
After a Latavius Murray run to the 33, Winston knelt on the ball three times to run time off the clock.
The Bucs took over on downs. Blaine Gabbert replaced Tom Brady and took a knee to end the game.
Bucs finally get on the board
The Bucs finally got on the scoreboard on a Ryan Succop field goal with just under six minutes remaining in the game.
Succop’s 48-yard field goal made the Tampa Bay deficit 38-3.
The Bucs drove 45 yards from their 25 to the Saints 30 in seven plays.
The big play was a 20-yard pass from Tom Brady to Leonard Fournette. Brady also connected with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on 14-yard completions.
Saints go up 38 on Brees' fourth TD pass
Drew Brees' fourth touchdown of the game extends the Saints' lead over the Bucs to 38-0 in the fourth quarter.
Brees' three-yard pass to tight end Josh Hill with just over nine minutes remaining capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive that started after Malcolm Jenkins intercepted Tom Brady at the New Orleans 30.
The big play was a 29-yard pass from Taysom Hill to tight end Adam Trautman to the Bucs 35.
Tampa Bay helped to extend the drive with neutral-zone infraction penalties against Steve McLendon and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
The Bucs appeared to get the break they had been waiting for when Shaquil Barrett forced a Drew Brees fumble on the Saints' first possession of the second half and Mike Edwards returned it to the New Orleans 21.
After Tom Brady connected on a 12-yard pass to Mike Evans, a pass interference penalty on Janoris Jenkins moved the ball to the 1.
But a pair of incomplete passes and a Ronald Jones run for no gain set up fourth and goal from the 1.
Brady’s pass for Mike Evans in the end zone was broken up by Marshon Lattimore, and the Bucs turned the ball over on downs.
Tampa Bay drove to the New Orleans 42 on its next drive, but the drive stalled when Brady was sacked on consecutive plays and then intercepted by Malcolm Jenkins on fourth down.
Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and Tom Brady two interceptions as the Saints led the Bucs 31-0 at halftime Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Brady completed 11 of 22 passes for 96 yards in the half as Tampa Bay’s offense struggled to find its rhythm.
Brees, by contrast, was 18 of 23 for 189 yards and the three scores. He and Taysom Hill completed passes to 11 different receivers.
Tre’Quan Smith, Adam Trautman and Emmanuel Sanders caught touchdown passes for New Orleans.
Alvin Kamara scored on a 1-yard run, and Will Lutz added a 36-yard field goal for the Saints.
Things could have been even worse for the Bucs had New Orleans tight end Jared Cook not fumbled at the Tampa Bay 2 in the first quarter.
New Orleans goes up (gasp!) 31-0
After forcing a turnover on downs, the Saints drove to the Bucs 18 with two minutes remaining in the first half.
Drew Brees appeared to hit Jared Cook for a first down inside the Tampa Bay 10 on third and seven. But Cook, who fumbled at the Bucs 2 earlier in the game, couldn’t hold on to the pass.
New Orleans had to settle for a 36-yard Will Lutz field goal and a 31-0 lead.
Bucs turn the ball over on downs
Trailing by four touchdowns in the second quarter, the Bucs turned the ball over on downs at the Saints 38.
Taking advantage of a 20-yard pass from Tom Brady to Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay drove to the New Orleans 42 on four plays.
Antonio Brown caught his first pass as a Buc on the drive, a six-yard gain to the Saints 42.
Two-yard completions to running back Leonard Fournette and tight end Rob Gronkowski moved the ball to the 38. But a pass for Chris Godwin on third and six was incomplete, and Brady overthrew Gronkowski deep over the middle on fourth down.
New Orleans takes four-touchdown lead
Alvin Kamara’s one-yard touchdown run gave the Saints a 28-0 lead with 8:45 remaining in the first half of Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium.
Two plays after the Saints' third touchdown, the Bucs gave them the ball right back deep in their own territory.
Tom Brady’s pass for Ronald Jones was tipped by defensive end Marcus Davenport and intercepted by defensive tackle David Onyemata at the Tampa Bay 27.
Taysom Hill ran for 12 yards off right guard to the 1, and Kamara picked up the remaining yard over the left side.
Brees' third TD pass puts Saints up by 21
Drew Brees' third touchdown pass in little more than a quarter put the Saints ahead of the Bucs 21-0 early in the second quarter.
The Saints got the ball back with a short field after Deonte Harris returned a Bradley Pinion punt 15 yards to the 50.
Pinion limped off the field after one of his teammates was driven back into him following the punt.
Brees completed a 21-yard pass to Taysom Hill to the Bucs 35, then Hill ran 23 yards to the 12.
After an incomplete pass, Brees found wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders open on the left side for a 12-yard scoring pass with 11:44 remaining in the half.
The Bucs were without a first down until Tom Brady found Tyler Johnson for an 11-yard gain to the Tampa Bay 34.
Saints go up 14 on Brees' second TD pass
The Saints took a 14-0 lead over the Bucs on Drew Brees' touchdown pass to Adam Trautman on the final play of the first quarter.
It was Brees' second touchdown pass of the game.
After stopping the Bucs deep in their own end, the Saints took advantage of a short punt by Bradley Pinion to take possession at the Tampa Bay 35.
They were at the 10 just two plays later, as Alvin Kamara ran for 17 yards and Michael Thomas pulled in an eight-yard pass from Brees.
After Kamara ran two yards for a first down at the 7, Brees hit Trautman for a seven-yard scoring pass over the middle.
Lavonte David was down on the field after the play.
Fumble thwarts second Saints drive
Leading by seven, the Saints appeared poised to double their lead when they drove to the Bucs' 2-yard line on their second possession. But linebacker Lavonte David recovered a Jared Cook fumble, giving Tampa Bay possession.
One play after forcing a second Tampa Bay punt, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees connected with Deonte Harris on a 40-yard completion to the Bucs 26.
After a short Latavius Murray run, Brees hit Michael Thomas over the middle for five yards to the 19, setting up third and 4. Brees went back over the middle to Murray, but he was stopped just short of the first-down marker by linebackers Devin White and David.
Fullback Mike Burton ran one yard up the middle for the first down. The Bucs challenged the spot, but it was unsuccessful.
Two plays later, Brees hit Jared Cook over the middle for 11 yards to the 2. But Cook fumbled at the end of the play, and David recovered for the Bucs.
Saints score first
The Saints got on the board first, taking a 7-0 lead on Drew Brees' 14-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith with 9:35 remaining in the first quarter.
After forcing the Bucs to go three-and-out on their opening possession, the Saints took over on their 35-yard line. They needed just 4:32 to drive 65 yards on nine plays, seven of them passes.
Brees was 5 of 6 for 45 yards on the drive, hitting five different receivers.
Taysom Hill connected with a sixth, finding Jared Cook for a 19-yard gain to the Bucs 14, setting up the Brees touchdown pass.
Bucs go three-and-out on opening drive
The Bucs went three-and-out on their opening drive.
Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan overpowered right tackle Tristan Wirfs on the first play from scrimmage and tipped Tom Brady’s pass for Chris Godwin.
After Ronald Jones ran for seven yards over right guard, Brady threw incomplete for tight end Rob Gronkowski, forcing the Bucs to punt.
Stakes high, spotlight bright
Call it a rematch, if you like.
But the Bucs team that will play the Saints tonight at Raymond James Stadium bears almost no resemblance to the one that lost by 11 points in the season opener almost two months ago in New Orleans.
Quarterback Tom Brady, adjusting to new teammates and a different offensive system without benefit of a single preseason game, threw two interceptions — including a pick-six — in a 34-23 loss on Sept. 13.
Wide receiver Mike Evans, limited by a hamstring injury, caught one pass for two yards.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, out of football for a year, served primarily as a blocker as he worked his way back into game shape.
Tampa Bay’s special teams had a field goal blocked and muffed a punt.
To Bucs fans, it looked like more of the same mediocre play they’d become accustomed to in recent seasons.
But in the seven weeks since that game, the Bucs have won six of seven, including statement-making victories over the previously unbeaten Packers and an upstart Raiders team coming off a win over the Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
Brady and his new teammates have grown accustomed to one another. The quarterback has gotten comfortable in Byron Leftwich’s offense. Gronkowski has gotten involved in the passing game. And tonight, Brady will have two more weapons at his disposal, as Antonio Brown has completed an eight-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy and Chris Godwin returns from a finger injury.
Meanwhile, the Saints have rebounded from an uneven offensive performance in the opener to win four of their next six games. And quarterback Drew Brees will have the use of receivers Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19 reserve list), as well as running back Alvin Kamara.
The Bucs sit atop the NFC South standings with a 6-2 record, 1/2 game ahead of the second-place Saints. The stakes will be high and the spotlight bright, as NBC is featuring the game in its prime-time slot, the first time Tampa Bay has hosted a Sunday Night Football game in 12 seasons.
Follow along, starting at 8:20 p.m., as the Bucs try to expand their lead in the division and win for the seventh time in eight games.
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A little light reading
Here’s some of our content leading up to today’s game: