Tom Brady achieving career firsts usually means milestones in his illustrious NFL career.
He experienced the wrong kind of firsts Sunday instead as the New Orleans Saints (6-2) demolished the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-3 in a game tabbed as a prime time NFC South Showdown. The Bucs quarterback couldn’t engineer an epic comeback after falling behind 31-0 in the first half.
“We just didn’t play the way we were capable of playing,” Brady said in the postgame press conference. “Everyone’s gotta do a lot better, and it starts with me.”
Brady threw three interceptions in the loss and couldn’t get things going early or late. He posted a season-low 57.9 percent completion percentage and a season-worst 5.5 yards per completion. His 22 completions mustered 209 yards. It all amounted to a quarterback rating of 40.4, a season low and one of the worst in his career.
USA Today’s Jarrett Bell called it the worst game of Brady’s career. Bell mentioned another game that might take the cake or second place, a 31-0 loss by Brady and the New England Patriots in 2003. Bardy posted his career-low QB rating, 22.5, that day according to CBS Sports Boston’s Michael Hurley.
That scintillating field goal drive brought his rating up to 40.4. Assuming he's done for the night, that'll be his third-worst single game mark ever.
1. 2003, @ BUF: 22.5
2. 2006, vs. IND, 34.0
3. 2020, vs. NO, 40.4
Just his 8th career start with a rating under 50.0.
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) November 9, 2020
Brady’s firsts started with the first four drives, all ending in punts. That never happened in Brady’s career before Sunday, according to ESPN Stats and Info. The Saints took advantage, mounting its lead.
This is Tom Brady's 333rd career start (including playoffs).
It's the first time his team has gone 3-and-out on the first 4 drives.
Brady has been pressured on 5 of his 10 dropbacks so far tonight and is 0-of-5 passing when pressured. pic.twitter.com/xMbeUbFOZR
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 9, 2020
Brady faced the biggest halftime deficit of his career, per NBC Sports. It eclipsed the 21-3 halftime hole he faced in Super Bowl LI, his marquee comeback during his New England Patriots days. He ultimately rallied the Patriots from a 28-3 deficit at one point in that game to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime.
It took until the fourth quarter Sunday for Brady to get the Bucs on the board against the Saints when kicker Ryan Succop drilled a field goal. Brady came close to a touchdown earlier on a failed pass to tight end and longtime target Rob Gronkowski on fourth down at the goal line. New star wide receiver Antonio Brown couldn’t provide a boost, mustering three catches for 31 yards.
“When things don’t go your way, sometimes they keep going that way,” Brady said in the postgame press conference. “You’ve got to figure out how to stop it and then turn it around. We had our opportunities and just didn’t do it.”
Tampa’s loss ended a dominant run for Brady in facing division opponents as a Brady-led team suffered its first sweep against a division foe, according to NBC Sports. The Saints beat the Bucs 34-23 in Week 1 when Brady made his debut with his new team but threw two interceptions.
No AFC East team ever swept a Brady-led Patriots team in his 19 seasons as the starter, per NBC Sports. San Francisco 49eres great Joe Montana, Brady’s boyhood hero, ranks second with 13 seasons of no sweeps.
While it may be unprecedented for Brady, bouncing back from blowout losses isn’t. He and the Patriots notably lost embarrassingly in prime time against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. As ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote in 2015, that loss served as a turning point for a Patriots team that went on to win the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay gets its first chance to turn things around after a gruesome loss when visiting the Carolina Panthers (3-6) in Week 10.
“It’s about playing better and execution,” Brady said in the postgame press conference. “We all have to do our job a lot better.”