The New Orleans Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football with determination and style. That should have been the opening line to any story covering the game, except the Saints gave up a commanding 13-point lead for yet another loss on the season.
The Saints controlled the game almost from the start, keeping QB Tom Brady and his Bucs to just a field goal for more than three and a half quarters. Then, up 16-3, it all came crashing down.
With the fourth quarter rolling and the Saints controlling the ball and the game, QB Andy Dalton and the offense only had to manage the clock to chew up time. Instead, they tried to get cute and make a couple of big plays that ended in disaster.
Saints Woes Continue
Brady recently said he might be the worst QB in the NFL, but he showed the depth of his talent once again Monday night. He led his team to an epic thirteen-point comeback in the last three minutes to take the 17-16 win.
Brady, who celebrated his 45th birthday four months ago, added a touchdown pass with just three seconds left to win the game. In the 23 years he has been an NFL QB, he never had to win a game so close to the edge.
The seven-time Super Bowl winner has only had to overcome a 13-point or more deficit late in a game once in his career. That was Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, when the GOAT rallied from a 19-point disadvantage.
The Bucs put up a first-quarter field goal to get the scoring started, but the Saints then took over. They added 10 in the second and another three in the third while preventing Tampa Bay from finding the end zone in both quarters.
Another field goal for the Saints in the fourth gave them a huge lead. Even after Brady marched his crew down the field with just over three minutes to go, the Saints didn’t have to start worrying. The defense had help up the Bucs all night, and could do it once more.
Saints Beat Themselves
Instead, the Saints fell apart. A pass interference call and the 44-yard penalty that came with it set the Bucs up for an easy score at the three-minute mark.
It still wasn’t over for the Saints. Less than three minutes to go, keep the ball on the ground to push the chains and chew up the clock. Dalton snapped the ball for a pass when the Bucs sacked him for a huge loss.
The Saints tried again, resulting in an incomplete pass in the middle of tight coverage. It’s now 4-17 deep in their own territory, which means New Orleans has to punt. Two minutes on the clock was more than enough for Brady.
One successful play after another – in the air or on the ground, it didn’t matter. The Bucs moved closer to the pylons and the Saints moved closer to another loss on the season.
19 seconds on the clock, and the Bucs pick up the TD to tie the score. However, an offensive holding call brought it back.
That was no problem for the Bucs, who followed it up with another score and no flags with three seconds on the clock. The extra point was good, and the Saints added another embarrassment to their season.
New Orleans played good ball and the defense did everything right for most of the game. It ran out of juice in the fourth quarter, hampered by an ineffective offense.
The Saints were close to pulling off a major underdog upset, but couldn’t get it done. However, both teams were disappointments, with neither offense overwhelmingly impressive.
For sports bettors, this game should have gone over in points, but fell way short of expectations. The same can be said for the season for all the Saints and Bucs fans.
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