Whether you blame Tom Brady’s age, Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians’ preparation or bad karma generated by the signing of mercurial receiver Antonio Brown, this was ugly.
And unexpected, apparently, given the appalling effort by professional NFL analysts.
But first, the game itself: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ humiliating 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints on NBC’s Sunday Night Football showed clearly that the Saints are still kings of the NFC South hill.
Tampa’s offense had a record-setting night in terms of futility, rushing for 8 net yards, and the NFL’s greatest quarterback (by most standards and opinions) was brutal.
Brady completed only 22 of 38 attempts, for 209 yards. Add three picks and no TDs, and you have a miserable 40.4 passer rating to go with Brady’s worst defeat, by margin, of his career – the previous being a 31-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills in 2003.
Tampa’s defense didn’t help, allowing three sacks and 420 total yards as New Orleans raced to a 31-0 first-half lead. The Bucs were able to convert a field goal to avoid a shutout – something the TV experts could not avoid.
Perhaps the only performance worse than Tampa’s was that of the 15 (highly paid) analysts who ALL picked the Buccaneers in their pregame shows. All six on NBC, all five on ESPN and all four on NFL Network. That’s more than 35 points’ worth of bad.
“It was a collapse,” linebacker Shaq Barrett said, referring to his Bucs and not the prognostications. “A total team collapse.”
Winning quarterback Drew Brees completed passes to 12 different Saints receivers. (And Brady completed three passes to New Orleans players, too!)
New Orleans (6-2) now has swept its two games with Tampa Bay (6-3) and has a firm grasp of the NFC South – with an easier schedule ahead.