Tom Brady and Bucs find a way to beat Saints on winning TD in dying seconds

Tom Brady and Bucs find a way to beat Saints on winning TD in dying seconds

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is not capable of playing well for 60 minutes. If that were to happen, it would be at this point in the season.

But all the Buccaneers needed Monday night to pull off a huge victory in the NFC South race was to play well for about five minutes. And the greatest quarterback in NFL history was there to make sure that happened.

Tampa Bay, trailing by 13 points late in the fourth quarter and looking like it had no chance of scoring touchdowns, scored with three minutes remaining. Then the defense forced a quick punt and returned the ball to Tom Brady, who led a game-winning drive. Brady may not be the same player he’s been for a few decades, but he’s still capable of magic moments. Brady hit running back Rachaad White for a 6-yard touchdown with three seconds left, and the extra point gave Tampa Bay a dramatic 17-16 victory. The Buccaneers improved to 6-6 and are in position to win a bad split.

The Buccaneers hadn’t won when trailing by 8 or more points in the fourth quarter since 2012, ESPN said on its show. They really had nothing to gain on Monday night. But when Brady needed to make a few plays in critical time, he got away with it like he has so many times before.

Heading into Monday night, Brady was 0-37 in the regular season and 1-43 in the playoffs while leading by 13 points or more in the fourth quarter, according to ESPN Stats and Info. The only victory against this type of deficit before the comeback against the Saints was Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Bucs struggle to move the ball

The game started well for the Buccaneers. They went 16 games for 72 yards and although it ended in a field goal, it was a positive start.

Then Tampa Bay stopped scoring. For the rest of the half, they had three punts, one interception, and they went down on one knee to end the first half.

New Orleans wasn’t much better on offense, but the Saints got a 30-yard touchdown pass to Taysom Hill. They got a basket late in the half and were leading 10-3 at halftime. Offensively it wasn’t a great performance, but the defense kept the Saints in the game.

The Saints haven’t done much this season, but coach Dennis Allen has been fantastic against Tampa Bay during the Brady era. Last season, the Saints shut out the Buccaneers 9-0. Since joining the Buccaneers, Brady was just 1-4 against the Saints in the regular season heading into the day (although the Bucs picked up a playoff win over New Orleans en route to a Super Bowl title).

For about 55 minutes, it looked like Allen had Brady’s number again and the Saints, who were 4-8 going into the game, would come back into the NFC South race with a huge victory. But Brady found a way, one way or another.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have scored a huge win over the Saints.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have scored a huge win over the Saints. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Bucs and Tom Brady score big win

There didn’t seem to be much hope for the Buccaneers to come back after the Saints took a 16-3 lead in the fourth quarter. The attack couldn’t sustain the practices and the defense looked exhausted and couldn’t leave the pitch in the second half. The Saints have done two marathons. Both practices ended in field goals, but it wasn’t like Tampa Bay scored quickly. Or not at all.

In the fourth quarter, with about seven minutes left, the Buccaneers faced fourth-and-10 on their own turf. Brady tried to pressure the coaches into doing it. Tampa Bay left the offense in the field for a while, then sent the punt team on. It made sense to go, but Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles punted and relied on his defense.

The Buccaneers finally came to life on offense. They scored three minutes from time. A pass interference call on a long pass to Mike Evans created a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cade Otton. The Buccaneers got a three-and-out to force a punt after that, with a huge hit from safety Keanu Neal hitting an excellent, incomplete pass from Andy Dalton off the hands of Hill. It gave Brady a chance to pull off an incredibly lousy game for Tampa Bay for three and a half quarters.

Brady came alive for the two-minute exercise. Scotty Miller caught a first down to the Saints 20-yard line. Julio Jones made a circus catch to the 5-yard line with about 30 seconds left. Chris Godwin caught what would have been a touchdown, but left tackle Donovan Smith was called for a holding penalty, which put the Buccaneers in a tight spot. It didn’t matter. Brady just threw another touchdown pass.

The Buccaneers aren’t very good this season. But they are likely to go to the playoffs. And Brady has shown he’s still capable of making memories. At 45, he is still adding to his legacy.

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