- READ: Brady tallies record 44th fourth-quarter comeback
- READ: Eagles hold top-five pick following Saints' collapse
- READ: Bucs widen NFC South lead after comeback win
- READ: Bucs' White, Otton come up clutch in comeback win
- READ: Cam Jordan on Saints' collapse: 'This (expletive) hurts'
- Tom Brady does it again. For 55 minutes Monday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers barely maintained a pulse. Tampa Bay had just 196 yards of total offense prior to its final two scoring drives and struggled to muster much of anything offensively. The Bucs also punted twice earlier in the fourth quarter, including once from New Orleans' 40-yard line, eliciting a shower of boos from the fans before many headed for the exits. Then, with their backs against the wall, Brady and the Buccaneers woke up, covering 91 yards in 10 plays and 63 yards in 11 plays, doing all of it in less than five minutes of game time. Those five minutes were just enough for Brady to lead yet another comeback, taking what was a nightmarish, depressing night in Tampa and turning it into a joyous occasion like only Brady can. The 45-year-old has already done this once back in Week 9, leading a frantic comeback in a 16-13 win over the Rams. This time around, the Buccaneers needed 17 points to win, and Brady once again delivered.
- Dennis Allen has a lot of explaining to do. New Orleans simply should not have lost this game for a number of reasons. The Saints repeatedly drove deep into Tampa Bay territory and consistently failed to convert on key downs, forcing them to settle for field goals. The most impactful result came when Mark Ingram took a reception out of bounds short of the line to gain on second-and-7, stopping the clock at 8:17 before an Andy Dalton pass was tipped at the line, landing incomplete and forcing New Orleans to accept another kick. That field goal left the door cracked open just enough for Tampa Bay to believe it still had a chance, and two consecutive three-and-outs -- including one in which Taysom Hill dropped a great third-down pass from Dalton beyond the sticks -- saved enough time for Brady to mount an unlikely comeback. The personnel decision on third down raised an eyebrow, because if the Saints knew their best play was a pass, it would've made more logical sense to place a natural receiver in Hill's place, not an unpolished pass-catcher. The Saints paid dearly for that call, just as they did for playing soft zone coverage for much of Brady's first touchdown drive before inexplicably switching to man, leaving Paulson Adebo alone on Mike Evans, leading to a pass interference penalty that set up the score. Allen's performance wasn't dotted with clear blunders, but certainly included plenty of questionable decisions that contributed to their defeat.
- Andy Dalton deserves more credit for this performance. First off, his final line was solid: 20 of 28, 229 yards and one touchdown for a 107.6 passer rating. Dalton was sharp throughout the night, but those numbers could have been better if his targets did their part. Rookie Chris Olave dropped a well-placed pass from Dalton on third down simply because he took his eyes off the ball, leading to a possession-wasting punt. Following a Demario Davis interception, Jarvis Landry failed to reel in another well-placed, third-down throw from Dalton, forcing New Orleans to settle for a field goal. A penalty for 12 men in the huddle pushed New Orleans back from Tampa Bay's goal line, leading to a third-down completion to Hill that came up short of the end zone, leading to -- you guessed it -- another field goal on a possession gained by a forced fumble. And finally, we already discussed the pass Hill had knocked out of his hands on third down that likely would have helped the Saints put the game away. None of this was the fault of Dalton, who played well enough to win. It's a shame the Saints couldn't finish the job.
- Give Brady the keys to the offense already. Tampa Bay's offense was downright anemic for the vast majority of Monday night, so much that it left many of those watching wondering aloud whether Brady was finally showing his age. Brady wasn't without fault. He missed a handful of throws to open targets downfield, killing drives before they could ever truly get going. Fortunately for the Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay defense played well enough on third down to keep the Saints from running away with this one, buying the offense just enough time in the fourth quarter to put something together. This is where we arrive at our point. Tampa Bay's offense was day-and-night better in the two-minute drill (which the Buccaneers were forced to run on both of their two touchdown drives due to a lack of available time), presumably with Brady calling the shots. The Buccaneers have been at their best in these moments, when the pressure is cranked up to 11 and there's no tomorrow. Why not let Brady run the offense like this from the opening possession? The Buccaneers actively applied pressure on New Orleans' defense, which devolved from a stingy unit to a sieve. The Buccaneers should take this approach from the beginning of every single game left on the calendar. Perhaps then they'll finally unlock the offense.
- New Orleans gave away its last legitimate chance to make a postseason run. Look, the NFC South is bad. The Buccaneers remain atop the division at 6-6, which would rank third in the NFC West, second in the NFC North and dead last in the NFC East. This reality meant the Saints, despite being 4-8, still had an outside shot at reaching the playoffs -- until they collapsed Monday night. Two three-and-outs and a pair of soft defensive series took what appeared to be an inspiring, gotta-have-it win and turned it into a crushing loss that very well could send the Saints into darkness with five weeks left to play. If we get to January and the Saints have merely limped across the finish line, we know where we can point to as the turning point in their 2022 story: Monday night.
NFL Research: Tom Brady completed his 44th career fourth-quarter comeback, passing Peyton Manning for the most in the recorded history of the stat (since 1960).
Next Gen Stat of the game: The Buccaneers had a 0.7% win probability with 5:34 remaining in the fourth quarter. Their comeback win was the fourth-largest comeback according to win probability in the Next Gen era (dating back to 2016).