Tom Brady, the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, corrected his unzipped jacket as he entered the press conference room and said the only thing you’d expect him to say at this stage in his successful career after utterly surprising the New Orleans Saints with yet another game-winning drive.
“Just like we drew it up,” Brady said smiling at a laughing crowd of reporters.
It was edge-of-your-seat stuff to watch Brady’s range of emotions throughout the game, from screaming on the sideline in frustration with the offense’s sputtering to celebrating Rachel White’s game-winning touchdown to seal a 17-6 stunning victory.
On December 5, 2022, in Tampa, Florida, Rashaad White (#29) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scores a touchdown against Demario Davis (#56) of the New Orleans Saints during the game at Raymond James Stadium. With a score of 17 to 16, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the New Orleans Saints. (Image: Mike Carlson/Getty) )
But after seeing this same film played out for years, it’s almost expected at this point when Brady has enough time left in the game to win it if the score says there’s a chance.
The score was 16-3 in the fourth quarter, and Brady had only ever won a game down 13 or more points in the fourth in his career. That was Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, which resulted in an overtime victory for the New England Patriots.
Overtime wasn’t needed for this one. Instead, Brady just needed to find the end zone for the first time in the game with rookie tight end Cade Otton hauling in a one-yard bootleg pass from the G.O.A.T to bring the Bucs within six points.
Feeling the pressure, New Orleans needed a couple of first downs to ice the game, as the Bucs had all three timeouts still on their sideline.
Instead, Andy Dalton and his bunch went three-and-out, burning just two of the Buccaneers’ timeouts with the two-minute warning not yet reached, effectively giving Brady two timeouts and more than enough time to win the game with a touchdown and a successful extra point.
At that point in the game, yeah, it’s just like Brady has drawn it up multiple times before. He dissected the Saints’ defense with short, methodical passes to allow his receivers to get out of bounds.
Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stretches prior to an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on December 5, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
And when he needed that big play, he found Julio Jones, who hauled in a pass on a tremendous leaping grab that set the Bucs up on the Saints’ five-yard line.
Brady then found Chris Godwin for what would’ve been the game-winning touchdown had left tackle Donovan Smith, the most penalized offensive lineman in the NFL this season, not been called for holding.
Nonetheless, Brady found Godwin again for nine yards to give the Bucs a chance from the Saints’ six-yard line.
That’s when Brady waited for White to win his matchup with linebacker Demario Davis and stretched his body into the end zone. Ryan Succop’s extra point was good and Brady added his 44th game-winning drive to his future Hall of Fame resume.
The season hasn’t been drawn up the way Brady would like it at this point, as Tampa Bay gutted out just its sixth win of the season.
But the Bucs sit atop a dreadful NFC South division and separate themselves a bit from the pack with this win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. (Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
So, while there wasn’t a lot to smile or joke about during most of this game, all that matters is a win – something Brady is used to doing in crunch time.
Brady finished the game with 281 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception on 36 of 54 passing.