Saints frustrate Brady again, beat SB champ Buccaneers 9-0

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Nobody hounds Tom Brady like the New Orleans Saints.

Cameron Jordan and the New Orleans defense gave Brady fits again, shutting down Tampa Bay’s high-powered offense Sunday night as the Saints put the Buccaneers’ division-title celebration plans on hold with a 9-0 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champions.

“Just a tough night. Didn’t do much of anything right,” said Brady, who smashed a tablet on the bench in frustration late in the fourth quarter.

“I wish it was just one thing. It was a lot of things,” he added. “We just didn’t play well enough. We’re not going to win scoring no points.”

Despite playing without coach Sean Payton on the sideline, the Saints (7-7) beat the Bucs (10-4) for the seventh straight time during the regular season — fourth since Brady left New England for Tampa Bay in 2020.

And no doubt, defense was the driving force behind this one.

“You can’t say enough about what they did to pitch a shutout like that. And against a Brady-led offense, it’s incredible,” Saints quarterback Taysom Hill said. “Part of our play calling and all that was reflective of how well they were playing.”

The victory gave New Orleans a sweep of the season series between the NFC South rivals and boosted the Saints into playoff position with a hold on the conference’s final wild card. It also forced Tampa Bay to wait at least another week to clinch its first division crown since 2007.

The Bucs, who did win a playoff game at New Orleans last January en route to winning the Super Bowl, lead the division by three games with three weeks remaining in the regular season.

With defensive coordinator Dennis Allen standing in for Payton, who missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19, the Saints stymied the NFL’s No. 1 passing and scoring offense and ended Brady’s streak of 255 consecutive starts (including playoff games) without being shut out. defense and the way we were playing.”

The Saints have won two in a row after a five-game losing streak that jeopardized their postseason chances.

“We’re aware of the situation,” Hill said. “We’re 7-7 now and we’re doing everything we can to get to the playoffs. We have to approach every game like it’s a playoff game.”

The Saints have won the NFC South every year since 2017, and despite losing Brees to retirement and his successor, Jameis Winston, to a season-ending knee injury, they’re not relinquishing the crown without a fight.

Trevor Siemian came off the bench to replace Winston and lead New Orleans to a 36-27 victory in the first meeting between the fierce rivals on Oct. 31. Brady threw for 375 yards and two TDs in that one, but also lost a fumble and had one of his two interceptions returned for a touchdown in the loss.

This time, the Saints’ defense harassed Brady repeatedly, forced a fumble by the 44-year-old quarterback that ruined Tampa Bay’s best scoring opportunity in the second half, and also intercepted the seven-time Super Bowl winner late in the game.

“I think it’s just a testament to what our defense is able to do,” Jordan said. “The way we were able to attack the offense, I love it.”

Ryan Succop missed a 45-yard field goal, costing the Bucs potential points in the first half.

“Very disappointing. It’s never happened to me. I can’t remember the last time I was shut out, or us,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. “Our kickers let us down, also. Between the offense and the kicking game, it cost us the game. The defense played good enough to win.”

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