The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a chance to make a statement under the bright lights Sunday night.
Instead, Tom Brady and Co. laid an egg.
The Buccaneers, who entered Week 9 riding a three-game win streak, were flattened by the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay only mustered up 194 yards of total offense as it fell 38-3 to the Saints, who sealed a sweep of the teams’ regular-season series.
The blowout marked the worst point-differential loss of Brady’s career. The 43-year-old struggled mightily against New Orleans, completing 22 of 38 pass attempts for 209 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. The Saints also gave Brady fits back in Week 1 when Drew Brees and Co. notched an 11-point win at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
After the game, head coach Bruce Arians was asked if he’s concerned about Brady’s worst performances this season having come against stronger opponents. Arians didn’t sound overly worried, but he also didn’t disregard the question.
“I think that’s how you’re usually judged,” Arians said, per a team-provided transcript. “We were pretty good against Green Bay and really poor against New Orleans.”
Don’t look now, but righting the ship won’t be easy for the Bucs. On deck is a matchup with the pesky Panthers in Carolina, followed by a primetime tilt with the defensively stout Los Angeles Rams. The Bucs then will host the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12.
The sky, of course, isn’t in falling in Tampa Bay, but perhaps the Bucs were prematurely crowned the NFC favorite.