For the first time in his NFL career, quarterback Tom Brady took the field for a regular-season game in a uniform other than the New England Patriots.
He made things interesting, especially as he tried to mount a rally late in the fourth quarter, but was unable to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the New Orleans Saints in the season-opener for both teams Sunday.
The Saints capitalized on a pair of Brady mistakes – an interception in the first half that led to a Saints scoring drive and another one in the third quarter that was returned for a touchdown – for a 34-23 victory at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Brady finished with 239 yards on 23 for 36 passing. He threw touchdown passes to O.J. Howard and Mike Evans, and ran for a touchdown to cap his first drive as the Buccaneers’ quarterback.
Brady was intercepted by Marcus Williams in the second quarter and the Saints scored on the ensuing possession to take a 14-7 lead. On Tampa Bay’s first possession of the third quarter, Brady was intercepted by Janoris Jenkins, who returned it 36 yards for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.
Brady led an 11-play, 87-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Mike Evans – his first catch of the game – that cut the Saints’ lead to 34-23 late in the fourth quarter. A 37-yard pass to Scott Miller highlighted the drive.
Saints get some breathing room
After Brady pulled Tampa Bay within one score in the third quarter, the Saints opened the fourth with a six-play, 61-yard touchdown drive to make it 31-17. The highlight was a 46-yard pass play from Drew Brees to Jared Cook that put the Saints at the Tampa Bay 15.
On the kickoff that followed, the Bucs gave the ball right back when two players attempted to catch the kickoff, the ball ended up on the turf, and the Saints recovered at the 18.
Rally in the making?
Brady led an eight-play, 41-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard field goal by Ryan Succop that cut New Orleans’s lead to 24-17 with 2:22 left in the third quarter.
Since Brady’s pick-6 at the beginning of the third quarter, the Bucs have scored 10 unanswered points to pull within one score.
On the Bucs’ possession immediately after Brady threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and a 24-7 Saints lead early in the third quarter, he led a two-play drive that cut the lead to 24-14.
Brady hit tight end O.J. Howard on a 9-yard touchdown pass play to cap the drive, which was aided by a 45-yard pass interference penalty against the Saints.