Tom Brady, Bucs advance to NFC title game by beating Saints
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score and the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers took advantage of three Drew Brees interceptions to beat the New Orleans Saints 30-20 in an NFC Divisional Playoff on Sunday night.
The Buccaneers avenged two regular-season losses against the Saints to advance to the NFC Championship Game at Green Bay next Sunday.
Brady, who threw five interceptions in the first two meetings, did not turn the ball over while completing 18 of 33 for 199 yards.
Brees, who didn’t turn the ball over in the first two meetings, contributed three of the Saints four turnovers, which led to three Buccaneers’ touchdowns. He completed 19 of 34 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
The Saints broke a halftime tie on the first possession of the third quarter when Brees threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith.
On New Orleans’ next possession, Brees completed a pass to Jared Cook, who fumbled and Devin White recovered and returned to the Saints 40. That led to Brady’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Fournette, tying the score at 20 at the end of the third quarter.
The Saints punted, and then Ryan Succop kicked a 36-yard field goal to give the Buccaneers a 23-20 lead. On New Orleans’ next possession, White intercepted Brees, setting up Brady’s 1-yard touchdown run with 5:01 remaining.
Mike Edwards grabbed a tipped pass from Brees for another interception on the next possession.
Deonte Harris’ 54-yard punt return set up Wil Lutz’s 23-yard field goal that gave the Saints a 3-0 lead after their first possession of the game. Lutz added a 42-yard field goal that increased the lead to 6-0 with 4:44 left in the first quarter.
Succop kicked a 26-yard field goal two minutes into the second quarter, before Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepted Brees and returned 36 yards to the New Orleans 3-yard line. That set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Mike Evans on the next play, giving Tampa Bay a 10-6 lead.
Former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Smith on a trick play to give New Orleans a 13-10 lead with 8:17 left in the second quarter.
Brady drove Tampa to Succop’s 37-yard field goal as time expired, tying the score at halftime.
–Field Level Media