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Wonder if the New Orleans Saints’ 9-0 suffocation of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady and his team will be included in ESPN’s “Man In The Arena” documentary series about Brady?
It could feature Brady – the NFL’s best and longest lasting quarterback ever – whining like Cindy Brady to any official he could find as well as Saints players and Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen.
This installment of “Man In The Arena” could be retitled “Tommy In Timeout.”
Late in the game, a frustrated Brady even tossed his computer tablet into a metal container like a petulant child, destroying the expensive piece of equipment.
The 44-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl champion had a bad night at the playground. Sacked the fewest times in the NFL coming in at 17, Brady was sacked four times and fumbled with an interception as the Saints held the league’s highest scoring team (31 a game) to nothing.
“Just a tough night,” Brady said after the first home shutout of his 23-year career and first anywhere since a 21-0 loss at Miami on December 10, 2006, when Nick Saban was still coaching the Dolphins.
No current member of the Saints was in the NFL at the time. Defensive end Cam Jordan, who had two of the four sacks of Brady, was in high school in Chandler, Arizona.
“I can’t remember the last time I was shut out,” Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said. That was in 2017 when he was coaching the Arizona Cardinals.
Saints’ defensive coordinator Dennis Allen took over as interim head coach for the game after head coach Sean Payton tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and had to miss the game.
“I relish that opportunity,” Allen said. “I really appreciate all the players and the assistant coaches and the way that they just hung together and fought and scratched and clawed for each other so that we could come away with this win.”
It was the fourth straight win by the Saints over the Bucs and Brady in the regular season since Brady left New England for Tampa Bay before the 2020 season. The Saints won 34-23 in New Orleans and 38-3 in Tampa Bay last year before a 30-20 loss in the playoffs in New Orleans. The Saints beat Tampa Bay, 36-27, this season in New Orleans.
“Didn’t do much of anything right,” Brady said. “So we gotta get a lot better. Gotta get back to work. There’s a lot of football left. See if we can go get a win next week.”
Tampa Bay (10-4), which will play at Carolina (5-9) next week, could have clinched the NFC South with a win and even had T-shirts printed. The Saints (7-7), who have won the last four NFC South crowns, still have a decent shot at the playoffs. They host Miami (7-7) on Dec. 27, then play two losing teams – Carolina (5-9) at home and finish at Atlanta (6-8).
Payton, who completed the game plan for the Bucs before being ruled out of the game, is expected back for the Saints’ next game.
“Sean told me what he wanted, and then kind of let me go do it,” Allen said. “The fact that he had enough faith in me to step into his spot means a lot to me. I’m just appreciative of all the guys who are in that locker room because none of this was possible without what they did.”
Brady completed 26 of 48 passes for 214 yards while obviously missing wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who each left the game with injuries as did running back Leonard Fournette.
“Certainly, they had some injuries in the game, which I think helped us,” Allen said.
Brady threw behind an open receiver, and Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson made the interception with 3:47 to go in the fourth quarter to ice the game. Before that, Gardner-Johnson’s smiling face got in Brady’s grill after Brady’s fumble late in the third quarter ruined the Bucs’ best chance to take the lead.
With the Saints up 6-0 with 1:13 to play in the third and the Bucs facing a third-and-seven at the New Orleans’ 24-yard line, Brady scrambled up the middle. But Jordan tackled him and stripped the ball. Brady coughed it up forward for nearly 10 yards, and cornerback Marshon Lattimore recovered at the Saints’ 13.
The Saints drove 42 yards in 10 plays for a 42-yard field goal by Brett Maher for the 9-0 lead with 7:32 to play. Brady and the Bucs did little the rest of the way.
“I don’t think we were much good at anything tonight,” said Brady, who had a pedestrian 57.1 quarterback rating. “I wish it was just one thing. It was a lot of things. We’ve got to do better in every facet of offensive football to score points. We’re not going to win scoring no points.”
Maher put the Saints up 3-0 on a 39-yard field goal with 5:48 to play in the first quarter and hit a 35-yard field goal for a 6-0 lead at the beginning of the second quarter.
Ryan Succop missed a 46-yard field goal with 6:25 to go in the second quarter that would have cut the Saints’ lead to 6-3.
Saints quarterback Taysom Hill completed 13 of 27 passes for 154 yards and rushed 11 times for 33 yards. Wide receiver Marquez Callaway caught six passes for 112 yards.
Neither offense could do much.
“It was more about protecting the football and playing the field position game,” Allen said. “Defensively, I thought we were really good. This was about our guys going out and executing and playing really hard against a really good football team.”
And making a great quarterback look average.