Dec 19, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) fumbles the ball in the second half against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady, Buccaneers try to solve riddle of the Saints

The New Orleans Saints have had a lot of success against Tampa Bay since Tom Brady joined the Buccaneers in 2020.

They are 4-0 in the regular season, though the Buccaneers won a Divisional playoff game after the 2020 season. The Saints have won seven straight in the regular season going into the matchup between the NFC South rivals Sunday in New Orleans.

“We play extremely hard against those guys because we know it’s a huge challenge every time we go against them,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “They have an extremely talented offense and the best quarterback to ever play the game.

“Every opportunity is a different deal. We’ve got to focus on what we’re dealing with this year.”

Both teams won their season openers. Tampa Bay had one of the more impressive performances last weekend as they beat the Cowboys 19-3 in Dallas and were the only team in the NFL to not allow a touchdown.

The Saints had one of sloppiest performances while still winning last week, falling behind 26-10 in Atlanta before staging the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in franchise history to prevail 27-26.

“We’re going to have to play much better this week if we expect to win,” Allen said.

Each of the four victories against Brady has been by at least nine points. That includes the most-lopsided loss of Brady’s 23-year career (38-3 in Tampa in 2020) and the first shutout of a team led by Brady (9-0) in 15 years, last season in Tampa.

In those four games, Brady completed just 61 percent of his passes for an average of 259 yards with six touchdowns, eight interceptions and two lost fumbles. He was sacked 13 times.

Brady’s counterpart, Jameis Winston, will be facing the organization that he played with from 2015-19. He suffered a season-ending knee injury against Tampa Bay in the seventh game of last season.

Allen, whose win last week came in his first game as a successor to Sean Payton, was acting head coach for the shutout against the Bucs last season because Payton was sidelined by COVID-19.

Tampa also is transitioning from a coach that led it to a Super Bowl (Bruce Arians in Brady’s first season) and was succeeded by his defensive coordinator (Todd Bowles).

“We try to look at more film on anybody we lose to, whether it’s the offseason or during the season,” Bowles said. “Any time you lose to a team more than once or twice, you try to put a finger on why on what they’re trying to do and what you’re doing and what you can do different.”

Leonard Fournette rushed for 127 yards for Tampa Bay against Dallas and he’ll go against a New Orleans defense that allowed 201 rushing yards last week, including 120 by Cordarrelle Patterson.

“It’s easy to block for a guy like that,” Bucs offensive lineman Shaq Mason said of Fournette. “You know he’s going to give everything he’s got on every run and he was running angry (against the Cowboys).”

Both teams had lengthy practice reports Wednesday, but the only Saint to miss practice entirely was starting cornerback Paulson Adebo, who missed the opener because of an ankle injury.

Six Bucs did not participate, though Brady’s absence was for rest. Three others were wide receivers — Chris Godwin (hamstring), Julio Jones (knee) and Russell Gage (hamsting) — and starting left tackle Donovan Smith did not participate because of an elbow injury that forced him out of the opener.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Jarvis Landry (5) runs against Atlanta Falcons cornerback Mike Ford (28) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Saints beat Falcons, 27-26, on late field goal

Jameis Winston threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and Wil Lutz kicked a winning 51-yard field goal with 23 seconds left as the visiting New Orleans Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 27-26 on Sunday afternoon.

The Saints blocked a 63-yard field goal attempt by Younghoe Koo as time expired, giving Dennis Allen a victory in his first game as Sean Payton’s successor as Saints head coach.

The Falcons took a 26-10 lead early in the fourth quarter before Winston and wide receiver Michael Thomas went to work.

Watson led a four-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Thomas and a two-point conversion that trimmed the lead to 26-18 with 11:12 remaining.

Winston and Thomas teamed on a 9-yard touchdown, but a two-point run failed, leaving Atlanta with a 26-24 lead with 3:38 left.

The Saints got the ball back at their 20 with 48 seconds and no timeouts left and Winston, who completed 23 of 34 for 269 yards, drove them into scoring range. A 40-yard completion to new Saints receiver Jarvis Landry set up the attempt.

Marcus Mariota, making his debut as Falcons quarterback, passed for 215 yards and rushed for 72 and a touchdown. Cordarrelle Patterson added 120 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The Saints had minus-2 passing yards in the first half, but Winston passed for 22 on the first possession of the third quarter, leading to Lutz’s 49-yard field goal that cut Atlanta’s lead to 16-10.

The Falcons responded on the ensuing possession with Mariota’s 2-yard touchdown run that produced a 23-10 lead at the end of the third quarter.

On the first possession of the game, Mariota drove the Falcons 40 yards to Koo’s 54-yard field goal.

On the Saints’ second possession Taysom Hill broke free for a 57-yard run that led to his 11-yard touchdown run and a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Patterson’s 5-yard touchdown run completed a 66-yard drive and gave the Falcons a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Koo added a 50-yard field goal and a 40-yarder as time expired, extending the Falcons’ lead to 16-7 at halftime.

— Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA;  New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) works on receiver drills  during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints WR Michael Thomas questionable, CB Paulson Adebo out vs Falcons

New Orleans could be leaning on reinforcements in the secondary when the Saints kick off the regular season against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu did not practice and is listed as questionable and cornerback Paulson Adebo is out for the game with an ankle injury that kept him out of practice all week.

Mathieu, who got a late start to practice in training camp, was listed with an illness and hadn’t been on the injury report Wednesday or Thursday.

The Saints aren’t yet declaring wide receiver Michael Thomas ready to go after a yearlong absence recovering from ankle surgery. He’s questionable for Week 1 due to a hamstring injury and was a limited practice participant for the third consecutive day.

Wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith (shoulder) was ruled out by the Saints.

The Falcons expect first-round pick Drake London to be a game-time decision. He’s questionable with a knee injury. Cornerback Darren Hall (quadriceps) also is questionable.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy (78) in action against Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Alex Singleton (49) at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Saints C Erik McCoy agrees to reported $63.75M extension

New Orleans Saints center Erik McCoy agreed to a five-year extension on Thursday that NFL Network reported could be worth up to $63.75 million.

The Saints announced the extension later Thursday afternoon. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The report pegged McCoy to receive over $40 million in guaranteed money.

McCoy, 25, was a second-round draft pick (48th overall) in 2019 out of Texas A&M.

McCoy was slated to become unrestricted free agent after the season with his rookie contract set to expire.

He has started all 44 games he has played over his first three seasons. McCoy missed five games last season — four due to a calf injury and one because of illness.

McCoy has been dealing with a calf injury leading up to Sunday’s season opener against the host Atlanta Falcons. He was a limited practice participant on Wednesday and Thursday.

Receiver Michael Thomas (hamstring) is among the other New Orleans players dealing with injuries.

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings guard Wyatt Davis (52) performs a drill during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Saints sign G Wyatt Davis off Giants’ practice squad

The New Orleans Saints signed guard Wyatt Davis off the New York Giants’ practice squad and added the former third-round pick to their active roster.

The Giants were the first to report the move Thursday, adding that tackle Roy Mbaeteka had been signed to their practice squad in a corresponding transaction.

Davis, 23, played in six games as a rookie last season for the Minnesota Vikings, who drafted him 86th overall in 2021 out of Ohio State.

The Saints open the season on Sunday at Atlanta, while the Giants kick off the campaign at Tennessee.

–Field Level Media

Jan 9, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) tries to rush the passer blocked by Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Kaleb McGary (76) during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Saints getting defensive ahead of season opener at Falcons

The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons are both starting new eras as they open the season against one another Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.

Sean Payton is no longer the Saints head coach and Matt Ryan is no longer the Falcons quarterback as the longtime division rivals meet eight months after visiting New Orleans won 30-20 in the 2021 finale.

A couple of weeks later, Payton, who had been Saints coach since 2006, resigned and was replaced by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.

Ryan, who had been Atlanta’s starting quarterback since 2008, was traded to the Indianapolis Colts during the offseason as the Falcons rebuild in head coach Arthur Smith’s second season.

New Orleans, which had the least productive passing game in the NFL last season after having one of the best for nearly all of Payton’s tenure, ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense under Allen last season.

“We want to be the catalyst for winning,” defensive end Cameron Jordan said of the defense. “We don’t want to be something where we’re winning in spite of the defense.”

Jordan finished with a team-high 12 1/2 sacks last season.

The Saints’ string of four consecutive NFC South titles ended last season, though they still had a winning record (9-8) despite enduring a series of significant absences due to injuries and COVID-19.

They’re hopeful that the return of quarterback Jameis Winston, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 8 of last season, and wide receiver Michael Thomas, who missed all of last season and most of 2020 because of multiple ankle surgeries, will help them return to the playoffs.

“Of course I’m excited but I’m also grateful,” Winston said. “I’m just grateful to have another opportunity to start the season and compete again. I’m more grateful to have Mike Thomas back.”

Thomas was limited in practice Wednesday but seems on track to start Sunday. When he was last healthy in 2019, he set an NFL single-season record by catching 149 passes.

“I’m trying to top that,” Thomas said.

The Falcons have turned to former Tennessee Titans No. 2 overall draft pick Marcus Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner who was a backup for the Las Vegas Raiders the last two seasons, to succeed Ryan. Smith was offensive coordinator in Mariota’s final season with the Titans in 2019.

“He’s in a different spot,” Smith said of Mariota. “We all continue to grow and learn — very excited to work with him again. I think the experiences, some of the hardships he went through the last couple of years has only made him better.”

Mariota, who has played in 74 NFL games with 61 starts, is more mobile than Ryan, which should be helpful because the Falcons offensive line has allowed at least 40 sacks each of the last four seasons.

“It’s so hard to find guys that can play quarterback in the NFL,” Smith said. “It’s a hard position to play.”

Atlanta, which finished 7-10 and third in the NFC South last season, was 29th in the NFL in total offense (303.8 yards per game), 31st in rushing (85.4), 16th in passing (218.4) and 26th in scoring (18.4 points per game).

The Falcons’ two most productive offensive players beside Ryan last season were running back Cordarrelle Patterson (1,166 scrimmage yards, 11 touchdowns) and rookie Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Pitts (68 catches, 1,026 yards, one touchdown).

Atlanta used the No. 8 overall draft pick to select USC’s Drake London, the first wide receiver taken this spring. London (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday. New Orleans starting cornerback Paulson Adebo (ankle) did not practice.

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Trevor Penning (70) during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints OT Trevor Penning could return in Nov.

New Orleans Saints rookie offensive tackle Trevor Penning could return from foot surgery in November, NFL Network reported Monday.

It was thought that Penning, who was placed on injured reserve last week, might miss the entire 2022 season. The team said he would be out indefinitely.

Penning, 23, tore ligaments in his left foot in the Aug. 26 preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Penning was selected No. 19 overall by the Saints in this year’s draft. James Hurst returned to practice last week and is expected to start in Week 1. Hurst had been sidelined since mid-August due to a foot injury.

New Orleans opens the season at Atlanta on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

NFL New York Jets safety Marcus Maye

Reports: Saints S Marcus Maye facing assault charge

New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Maye was arrested Thursday morning for aggravated assault with a firearm, NewOrleans.Football reported.

Maye’s attorney, Eric Hessler, told NFL Network that the situation involved a “motor vehicle incident.”

“Marcus vehemently denies the allegation from a motor vehicle incident, and looks forward to defending himself when all the facts come out,” Hessler said.

Maye, 29, spent the past five seasons with the New York Jets, who drafted him in the second round in 2017.

He recorded 312 tackles, six interceptions and 3.5 sacks in 60 games (all starts) with the Jets.

He signed a three-year, $28.5 million deal with the Saints in free agency in March that included a $6 million signing bonus and $14.5 million guaranteed.

Maye is listed as the starting strong safety on New Orleans’ official depth chart with J.T. Gray as the backup.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (22) walks off the field at the end of their game against the Carolina Panthers at the Caesars Superdome. The Saints won, 18-10. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints trading Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to Eagles

The New Orleans Saints are trading defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to the Philadelphia Eagles, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

Contract extension talks between Gardner-Johnson and the Saints reportedly broke down before New Orleans opted to trade the 2019 fourth-round pick. There was no immediate word on compensation from the Eagles.

Following the acquisition, the Eagles are planning to release starting safety Anthony Harris, according to ESPN.

Gardner-Johnson, 24, is due to earn $2.54 million this season in the final year of his rookie deal. He had limited his participation in training camp while seeking a new deal.

Gardner-Johnson had 46 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks in 12 games (11 starts) last season. He totaled 161 tackles, five picks and three sacks in 43 games (31 starts) over three seasons.

Harris, 30, started 14 games and registered 72 tackles and one interception in his first season with Philadelphia in 2021. He spent his previous six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and led the NFL with six interceptions in 2019.

Gardner-Johnson is expected to become a full-time safety with the Eagles, replacing Harris, after playing mostly as a slot defender in New Orleans.

–Field Level Media

Aug 13, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Blake Cashman (53) attempts to tackle New Orleans Saints running back Devine Ozigbo (28) during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos add RB Devine Ozigbo off waivers from Saints

The Denver Broncos were awarded fourth-year running back Devine Ozigbo off waivers from the New Orleans Saints on Monday.

Ozigbo played two games for the Saints in 2021 he was waived. He also suited up for a game last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, with whom he also spent 2019 and 2020.

The Saints brought Ozigbo back into the fold in May before waiving him Sunday ahead of the next training camp roster cutdown deadline.

In 21 career games, the Nebraska product has 13 receptions for 72 yards along with 11 carries for 25 rushing yards.

The Broncos also designated defensive end Marquiss Spencer as waived/injured. The 2021 seventh-round draft pick played one game for Denver last year.

–Field Level Media