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Saints 38, Buccaneers 3

Tom Brady suffers one of worst career losses as Saints throttle Bucs, 38-3

Tom Brady reacts as he leaves the field at the end of the first half Sunday night.
Tom Brady reacts as he leaves the field at the end of the first half Sunday night.Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

Tom Brady took one of the worst losses of his career Sunday night as Drew Brees and the Saints crushed the Buccaneers, 38-3.

Brees was nearly perfect for New Orleans, finishing 26-for-32 passing for 222 yards and four touchdowns. Taysom Hill added seven carries for 54 yards, and Michael Thomas had five catches for 51 yards.

On the other side, Brady and the Buccaneers' offense were unable to generate any sort of offensive rhythm — he threw a pair of first-half interceptions and ended up 22-for-38 passing for 209 yards and three picks.

It marked just the third time in Brady’s career he finished a game with three interceptions and no touchdown passes. It also represented the worst loss — in terms of point differential — of his career. (The previous low was a 31-0 loss to the Bills in 2003.)

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In his Tampa Bay debut, wide receiver Antonio Brown had three catches (on five targets) for 31 yards.

Brees threw three first-half touchdown passes on the way to leading the Saints to a 31-0 lead after two quarters. The lead was all the more impressive considering that New Orleans tight end Jared Cook fumbled the ball on the goal line, giving away what should have been another touchdown for the Saints.

After Brees and the Saints went up, 38-0, midway through the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers ended the scoring with a 48-yard field goal from Ryan Succop.

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11:11 p.m.: The Saints are taking a knee. It looks like this one is over.

11:00 p.m.: I’ll ask it again: When does Bruce Arians go to Brady and ask him if he’s done? (Especially after he got smooshed on that last series.)

10:58 p.m.: Ryan Succop gets the Bucs' on the board with a field goal, making it 38-3 with 5:52 to go in regulation.

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10:54 p.m.:

10:51 p.m.: There’s 9:07 left in regulation, and the Saints hold a 38-0 lead. Ever since the early fumble by Jared Cook, it’s been all New Orleans. Meanwhile, the Bucs have been stuck in neutral.

10:39 p.m.: That’s three quarters in the books -- 31-0. If you’re Arians, when do you ask Brady if he wants to come out of the game?

10:37 p.m.: Third interception of the night for Brady. The Saints get the ball back, and it’s 31-0. I have to be honest -- I’m going to be fascinated to see how Brady and the Bucs respond to this going forward. In New England, these sorts of games were few and far between, to be sure. But those teams were defined, in some way, by how they responded. We’ve already detailed some of the worst halves of Brady’s career, which were almost always in bad losses. You can draw a line between some of those defeats and Super Bowl wins, including the “On To Cincinnati” game in 2014. (I’d expect to see a lot of that this week.) Will Brady and the Bucs be capable of a bounceback game after this stinker? It’ll be worth looking out for.

10:28 p.m.: Don’t think the Saints are willing to trade points for clock quite yet -- after all, this was the stadium where Tony Dungy and the Colts put together one of the great comebacks in semi-recent NFL history. But if you’re New Orleans, you’ve got to make them work for it. You can’t quite go full-on prevent for the last quarter-plus, but you can’t give up any home runs. It’s 31-0 with 4:17 to go in the third quarter.

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10:23 p.m.: Honestly, I’m probably missing a few of them, but these games were among the first ones that came to mind. The Saints are about to punt it away with just over five minutes to go in the third quarter. It’s still 31-0, New Orleans.

10:22 p.m.: The second half of the 2009 loss to the Saints in New Orleans, Brady was 9-for-15 for 113 yards with an interception. The Patriots lost that game, 38-17.

10:16 p.m.: First half of the 2014 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City, he was 9-for-15 for 72 yards in a 41-14 defeat.

10:14 p.m.: In the first half of the 2003 opener against the Bills, Brady was 4-for-11 for 19 yards, with two sacks and two interceptions. They lost that one, 31-0.

10:11 p.m.: If this remains a blowout, we’ll try and pull together some of the worst halves of Brady’s career the rest of the way. Here was the first one that came to mind -- in the first half of the 2001 loss to the Dolphins in Miami, Brady was 4-for-8 for 29 yards and three sacks. The Patriots lost that one, 30-10.

9:58 p.m.: Former Patriots' offensive lineman.

9:53 p.m.: That’s the half. New Orleans is up 31-0.

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Drew Brees: 18-for-23, 189 yards, 3 TDs

Tom Brady: 11-for-22, 96 yards, 2 INTs

9:51 p.m.: Oh, man. I’m now going back into my memory banks and trying to think of the worst Brady performances -- or at least, halves -- he’s ever submitted. I know the second half of the 2001 loss to the Dolphins in Miami was pretty bad. There was also the bulk of the 2003 opener against the Bills as well, although I’d have to look up the totals for that one, to be honest. But this game is in the conversation, at least right now. The Saints get the ball back after Brady’s second pick of the night. He’s 11-for-22 for 96 yards and two interceptions and his team is down 31-0, and it’s not even halftime yet.

9:46 p.m.: A 36-yard field goal makes it 31-0 with 1:49 to go in the first half.

9:43 p.m.: A lot of great teams have been boat-raced by the Saints over the years, but this is really something else. Drew Brees doing just about whatever he wants to do, the Saints' defense coming up with big stops all through the first quarter-plus. I know Brady has come back from big deficits in the past, but this feels a little different. It’s the two-minute warning, and the Saints are driving for more. (Remember when Jared Cook fumbled at the doorstep of the end zone early in the game?)

9:33 p.m.: Antonio Brown gets his first catch as a member of the Bucs, a six-yarder that helps Tampa Bay move the chains. It’s 28-0 with six minutes to go in the first half.

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9:31 p.m.: This is a remarkable stat:

9:28 p.m.: Put another one on the board for the Saints. Holy cow -- Brady and the Bucs are getting posterized. There’s 8:45 left in the first half.

9:25 p.m.:

9:19 p.m.: Emmanuel Sanders becomes the 11th different receiver to catch a pass for the Saints tonight, hauling in that touchdown grab to make it 21-0 with 11:44 left in the first half. Brees is 14-for-16 for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Wow.

9:17 p.m.: Been this kinda night for the Bucs.

9:14 p.m.: The Tampa Bay punter is hurt? Get Brady out there! He’s done it before!

9:07 p.m.: After Brees' second touchdown pass of the first quarter, Brady and the Bucs are fortunate to only be down 14-0 at the end of one. Brees and the Saints are absolutely smoking right now -- he’s completed passes to nine different receivers, and is 11-for-12 for 118 yards and a pair of touchdown passes ... and it’s only the end of the first quarter. Strong contrast between the two, as Brady is just 2-for-7 for 9 yards. Lot of football still to be played, but so far, Brees and New Orleans are blowing them out of the water.

9:00 p.m.: First opportunity for Antonio Brown is on a deep ball here at the end of the first quarter. Was off the mark. It’s part of the third straight three-and-out for the Buccaneers -- New Orleans is up 7-0 with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter.

8:56 p.m.:

8:52 p.m.: While we wait on the challenge, a quick Drew Brees story, from a New England perspective: I still believe the only coach-quarterback combo who would have been capable of offering a sustained challenge of Belichick and Brady in the AFC East would have been Nick Saban and Drew Brees. When Saban was in Miami, the Dolphins had a shot at landing Brees, but the Miami doctors didn’t like the look of the medicals in March 2006, so the Dolphins passed and went with Daunte Culpepper instead. Saban eventually left for Alabama, and the moment passed. But it would have been an awful lot of fun to see Saban and Brees knock heads with Belichick and Brady for a decade. Oh well … what might have been.

8:46 p.m.: Brees has already hit on passes to seven different receivers and the first quarter is just about halfway done.

8:35 p.m.: Terrific opening drive for Brees and the Saints to take the early lead. All of the options were on display on that sequence -- Thomas, Kamara, the uniqueness of Taysom Hill, etc. (Nice pass there on third down.) New Orleans is up 7-0 with 9:34 to go in the first quarter. Bucs might want to rethink their coverage -- a few busted looks there, including one on the touchdown pass.

8:22 p.m.: Michelle Tafoya says Tom Brady was lobbying for Antonio Brown in March, and Arians' initial response was “no way.” Then, injuries hit, and it was a different story. She also said the talk is that the receiver will play between 10 and 35 snaps tonight.

8:14 p.m.: Going to go with the Bucs' in this one. Tampa Bay can’t afford to lose a pair to a division rival. Feels like these two teams -- and the two quarterbacks -- will meet again in the playoffs.

8:12 p.m.:

8:08 p.m.:

7:52 p.m.: Going to be leaning on the wit and wisdom of our buddy Nick Underhill tonight, who covers the Saints. (A great follow, for what it’s worth.)

7:30 p.m.: Speaking of Antonio Brown, this piece from colleague Ben Volin is certainly worth a read, and it brings up something we write about last week prior to the Bucs-Giants game. Brady is taking an extraordinary interest in Antonio Brown -- I don’t know if there’s ever been a receiver Brady has been so invested in: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Troy Brown. None of them lived in Brady’s house for an extended stretch. I’m assuming some of it is due to Brady vouching for a guy who had been the third-rail of available pass catchers, and some of it is bending over backward to accommodate a world-class talent. But it’s remarkable to see Brady extend himself in such a fashion. We’ll see how much he plays tonight, and what sort of impact he might have.

7:15 p.m.: Welcome to Sunday night football! The Buccaneers say new wide receiver Antonio Brown will be a part of the mix this evening as Tampa Bay angles for its' fourth consecutive win, while Drew Brees and the Saints try and go for a regular-season sweep of their division rivals. Keep it here all night -- we’ll have all the latest updates as Brady and Brees look to try and one-up each other in the race for most all-time touchdown passes.


Christopher Price can be reached at christopher.price@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.