For whatever reason, the Saints continue to be a bad matchup for the Buccaneers in the regular season.
Even without head coach Sean Payton, who missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19, New Orleans used a dominant defensive performance to defeat the Buccaneers 9-0 on Sunday.
Quarterback Tom Brady hadn’t been shut out in 255 consecutive starts. The last time it happened was back in 2006 when the Patriots lost to the Dolphins.
Brady finished the game 26-of-48 for 214 yards with a lost fumble and a fourth-quarter interception with 3:47 left in the contest. He was hit a total of seven times.
It was a banner day for defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who also served as the acting head coach with Payton out. The Buccaneers averaged just 4.1 yards on 73 total plays.
Defensive end Cam Jordan, who missed the Saints’ last game while on the COVID-19 list, led the way with 2.0 sacks, getting a total of three quarterback hits and another couple of tackles for loss. New Orleans had a total of six tackles for loss in the contest.
Offensively, the Saints didn’t get much from quarterback Taysom Hill or running back Alvin Kamara. But they did get enough to win. Hill was 13-of-27 passing for 154 yards also taking 11 carries for 33 yards. Kamara had 18 yards on 11 carries plus two catches for 13 yards.
Receiver Marquez Callaway caught six passes for 112 yards to lead the team and lead the game.
Though Tampa Bay will welcome back receiver Antonio Brown on Monday after his three-game suspension, the offense lost several key players during the game. Receivers Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (knee) exited the game and didn’t return in the first half. Then running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) left the game in the third quarter. Those absences were significant, but New Orleans’ defense was effective even when those players were on the field.
The Buccaneers would have won the NFC South title with a victory. Instead, that will have to wait at least another week. At 10-4, Tampa Bay plays the Panthers, Jets, and Panthers to finish the 2021 season.
At 7-7, the Saints are still in playoff contention. They will be at home against the Dolphins and Panthers, and on the road against the Falcons to end the year.