TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Drew Brees threw for 222 yards and four touchdowns, regaining the NFL career TD pass lead and lifting the New Orleans Saints into first place in the NFC South with a 38-3 rout of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night.
The three-time defending division champion won their fifth straight game, intercepting Brady three times and completing a season sweep of the Bucs (6-3), who also suffered a double-digit loss at New Orleans in Week 1.
The Saints (6-2) weren’t perfect — turning the ball over twice themselves — however the offense was extremely efficient with receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back in the lineup, and the defense played its best game of the season.
Brees was 26 of 32 passing, including first-half TD throws of 14 yards to Tre’Quan Smith, 8 yards to Adam Trautman and 12 yards to Sanders, who missed the previous two games while on the COVID-19 list. The 41-year-old added a 3-yarder to Josh Hill to make it 38-0 with just over nine minutes remaining.
Brees regained the league career TD pass lead with 654, three more than the 43-year-old Brady, who had thrown for 17 touchdowns and just one interception over his previous six games. The Saints intercepted Brady twice in a 34-23 season-opening win, with Janoris Jenkins returning one for a TD.
Defensive Tackle David Onyemata and safeties Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins picked off Brady this time — the last on a throw the six-time Super Bowl threw wildly into the middle of the field as scrambled to avoid a relentless pass rush.
Brady was sacked three times and finished 22 of 38 for 209 yards, including three completions for 31 yards to Antonio Brown, who made his debut for Tampa Bay in his return from an eight-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
The Bucs ran the ball just five times, including Blaine Gabbert’s kneel-down on the final snap of the night.
The Saints scored on five of their first six possessions to build a 31-0 halftime lead, and the Bucs were fortunate the biggest first-half deficit of Brady’s career wasn’t larger.
Jared Cook fumbled at the Bucs 2 with the Saints looking to build on an early 7-0 lead. But with Tampa Bay’s offense sputtering and one of the league’s stingiest defenses unable to slow down Brees, New Orleans pressed on.
Brady’s first interception, ending a Bucs franchise-record streak of 200 consecutive pass attempts without a pick, led to Alvin Kamara’s 1-yard TD run that made it 28-0 midway through the second quarter.
The Saints outgained the Bucs 241 yards to 36 up to that point. They added Will Lutz’s 36-yard field goal and a second interception, with Marcus Williams snaring a deep throw intended for Brown in the closing minutes of the opening half.
Tampa Bay avoided a shutout with Ryan Succop’s 48-yard field goal with 5:52 remaining.
Saints: WR Michael Thomas played for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain during the Saints’ season-opening win over the Bucs.
Buccaneers: WR Chris Godwin returned after missing one game with a broken right index finger. … LG Ali Marpet (concussion) was inactive. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Joe Haeg.
Saints: 49ers at home on Sunday.
Buccaneers: at Carolina on Sunday.
(Story via The Associated Press)