Tom Brady has had his fair share of poor performances over the last 20 years. But on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback suffered the worst loss of his Hall of Fame career at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.
The embarrassing defeat not only caused the Bucs to drop to 6-3 but it also completely changed the NFC playoff picture moving forward.
Tom Brady suffers the worst loss of his legendary career
Even all-time greats have bad days at the office. But Sunday represented a new low point for Tom Brady.
Coming off three straight strong performances, the 43-year-old looked to add to his impressive season totals against the Saints. Yet, even with Antonio Brown in the lineup, the Buccaneers looked more like a team in the hunt for the No. 1 pick rather than a Super Bowl-caliber squad.
Facing consistent pressure from the New Orleans defense, Brady completed just 22-of-38 passes for 209 yards. The six-time champion threw a season-high three interceptions in the 38-3 defeat.
Before Sunday, the Buffalo Bills held the honor of handing the greatest quarterback of all time his worst loss. Back in 2003, Brady and the Patriots fell to their AFC East foe by a final score of 31-0. A much younger version of TB12 completed just 50% of his passes for 123 yards and four interceptions.
Of course, New England lost just one more game all year and ended up winning its second Super Bowl title with Brady under center.
The NFC playoff picture completely changed after Sunday night
Although Tom Brady managed to win a title after suffering the worst loss of his career, that might not be the case this time around. In fact, the outcome of the Saints-Buccaneers game completely changed the NFC playoff picture.
Prior to Sunday’s win, New Orleans held the No. 5 seed. However, by taking down their division rival, the Saints vaulted all the way to the top of the NFC standings. Drew Brees and Co. own a 6-2 record and have won all three of their division games, including a clean sweep of Brady and the Bucs.
Thanks to changes to the NFL playoff format, only the No. 1 seed in each conference gets a first-round bye. While New Orleans moved into the driver’s seat, Tampa fell to the fifth seed and now faces stiff competition to earn a wild card spot.
As long as the Saints take care of business, they should enjoy home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Playing in a dome could come in handy when the weather starts taking a turn during the winter months.
Meanwhile, after suffering the most lopsided loss of his legendary career, Brady must figure out a way to get the Buccaneers rolling on offense again in order to stay in the playoff hunt.
Are the Buccaneers legitimate Super Bowl contenders?
At 6-3, the Buccaneers certainly aren’t in as bad shape as Tom Brady’s former team. However, Tampa no longer looks like the favorite to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 55.
Despite having arguably the most talented set of weapons in the league, Brady has not exactly been the model of consistency this season. The three-time NFL MVP has had some terrific performances, including a five-touchdown outing against the Los Angeles Chargers and a four-touchdown day in a 45-20 win against the Las Vegas Raiders.
However, Brady has also delivered some clunkers. He threw two interceptions in Tampa’s season-opening loss against New Orleans. He looked overmatched against the Chicago Bears in a one-point loss in Week 5. And on Sunday, a fast, physical Saints defense forced him to make some poor decisions that resulted in three interceptions.
In reality, Brady’s up-and-down season perfectly sums up this Buccaneers team. On one day, they can look like the best team in football. But yesterday, they looked thoroughly overmatched against their division rival.
Ultimately, unless Tampa can play with more consistency on both sides of the ball, it looks like the team will have a difficult time winning its first Super Bowl title since 2002.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.