Saints blank Bucs, hand Tom Brady first shutout since 2006

 Saints blank Bucs, hand Tom Brady first shutout since 2006

Brett Maher kicked three field goals and the New Orleans Saints defense dominated Tom Brady and the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 9-0 victory on Sunday night.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen served as Saints acting head coach because Sean Payton was sidelined after testing positive for COVID two days earlier. The Saints (7-7) won their second straight after losing five in a row.

Brady completed 26 of 48 for 214 yards, threw an interception and lost a fumble as the Buccaneers (10-4) missed an opportunity to clinch the National Football Conference (NFC) South title. It’s the first time Brady has been shut out since 2006.

New Orleans, which has won the last four NFC South titles, improved to 4-0 in regular-season meetings against Tampa Bay since Brady joined the team. That includes a 38-3 victory in Tampa Bay last season — the most lopsided loss of Brady’s career.

The Buccaneers’ top two wide receivers — Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (knee) — were sidelined in the second quarter and missed the rest of the game. Running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) was sidelined for good in the third quarter.

The Buccaneers drove to the Saints 24 late in the third quarter, but as Brady scrambled, Cameron Jordan, who had two of the Saints’ four sacks, knocked the ball loose and Marshon Lattimore recovered for New Orleans.

After a scoreless third quarter, Maher kicked his third field goal in as many attempts, making a 42-yarder to give the Saints their first breathing room with a 9-0 lead with 7:28 remaining in the game.

The Saints drove 60 yards en route to Maher’s 39-yard field goal that gave them a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Maher added a 35-yard field goal early in the second quarter. The Buccaneers’ first scoring threat fizzled later in the period when Ryan Succup missed a 45-yard field goal.

Tampa Bay entered New Orleans territory again late in the quarter, reaching the 39 before Brady was sacked and the Buccaneers punted, leaving the Saints with a 6-0 halftime lead. —Reuters