Though the outcome certainly wasn’t shocking, the lopsided margin most certainly was stunning.
In a battle for NFC South supremacy, the New Orleans Saints shockingly stream-rolled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 38-3, with Drew Brees’ offense running off 38 consecutive points to begin the game and a dominant New Orleans defensive effort burying Tom Brady and Co. in the process.
For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Brees vs. Brady ahead of the evening, it was an all-around impressive and commanding outing for the Saints (6-2) in which they found success in every avenue and the Buccaneers (6-3) did just the opposite.
“Obviously, tonight was a great night. All the way around, in all three phases, it was pretty exceptional,” Brees said following the game on NBC. “But, I feel like we can still get better.”
That’s a scary proposition as the Saints looked every part of the Super Bowl contenders many viewed them as at one point prior to the season.
On a night in which reigning AP Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas (five catches for 51 yards) made his long-awaited return, there was plenty to drink in from a Saints offense that totaled 420 yards against the NFL’s No. 3 defense. Everyone from Taysom Hill to Alvin Kamara looked good with Brees shining to the tune of four touchdown passes.
“Obviously, we knew this was a big game. Divisional opponent. Tampa’s playing extremely well. Listen, it was the next game for us, it was the next challenge for us. We’re just trying to get better every week,” Brees said. “Obviously, we’ve been a little short-handed over the last few weeks. Had to have a lot of young guys and play and they played well. We found ways to win. Tonight it was good to get everybody back, get ’em back in the mix. I think we slowly did that. We wanted to spread the ball around, we wanted to play complimentary football. Can’t say enough about our defense, defense played phenomenal. And then offensively we were able to possess the ball, run the ball well, throw the ball well and, just, it was a great night of execution all the way around.”
The defense confounded Brady and the Bucs, holding them to 194 yards of offense, no touchdowns, forcing three interceptions and tallying three sacks.
While the Saints were fully loaded with Thomas’ return, the Buccaneers featured a returning Chris Godwin and a debuting Antonio Brown. There were no excuses to be had on the Bucs’ side for the beatdown. The Saints won for the fifth-straight time in the rivalry and did so in emphatic fashion, putting forth one of the most impressive victories of the 2020 season considering the dominance and the opponent.
Brady had no answers for the Saints defense and Brees could find little reason, either.
“I don’t know, cause he had all his weapons on the field, too. I thought it was going to be one of those games,” Brees said. “Man, they did a phenomenal job. Can’t say enough about the pass rush, obviously, I know Tom took a lot of hits tonight, can’t say enough about that front four.”
Nope, it wasn’t one of those games. Coming in, Brees had 560 career touchdown passes, trailing Brady’s 561 for the all-time mark. Brees regained that mantle and has 564 along with a 5-2 head-to-head record against TB12.
Indeed, Sunday night was one in which everything was going Brees’ and the Saints’ way.
“We’ve been playing against each other for 22 years,” Brees said of him and Brady. “There’s obviously a lot of respect there and, you know, I think throughout our careers, I think what we both say is just how grateful we are to have this opportunity to play this great game, to play it as long as we’ve been able to play it.”
The 41-year-old Brees’ return for his 20th season was seen to center largely around Super Bowl aspirations. And after a truly “exceptional” showing, the Saints look more like the Super Bowl contenders they longed to be than at any point during this campaign.