The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a game to forget against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football. Unfortunately, the NFL‘s record books won’t let them forget their lackluster performance. Bruce Arians’ squad achieved a league first and damaged Tom Brady‘s MVP case on the way to making history.
The Buccaneers made history in loss to the Saints
The New Orleans Saints held the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scoreless in an ugly 9-0 victory on Sunday Night Football. According to Newsweek, the Bucs became the first team since the 1970 NFL merger to lead the league in points and get shut out in December or January.
Byron Leftwich’s offense was averaging 31.5 points and 410.1 yards per game. New Orleans stymied the league’s top unit, though.
Tampa Bay’s offense couldn’t get anything going the entire night.
Tom Brady completed just 26 of 48 pass attempts for 214 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen called a great game while holding down the fort without head coach Sean Payton.
The Buccaneers have one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. However, the unit didn’t have its best game in Week 15, either. The Saints’ defense played like the top-10 unit it is. New Orleans got after Brady, sacking the 14-time Pro Bowl quarterback four times.
The Saints forced two turnovers, which helped keep the Buccaneers off the scoreboard.
Tom Brady bumps slightly down the MVP rankings
Entering Week 15, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers appeared to be the two frontrunners in the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award race.
Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers withstood a late surge to fend off the Baltimore Ravens. On the other hand, Brady did nothing to improve his case. Instead, he hurt it.
Remember, it’s Tom Brady, so perhaps there’s no reason to be overly concerned about the Buccaneers moving forward. Still, performances like these can destroy a player’s chances to win MVP.
Rodgers likely remains in the top spot, but Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor would have to be a close second. The second-year running back has been on an absolute tear in 2021.
Taylor leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,518) and touchdowns (17). He enjoyed a signature moment against the New England Patriots in Week 15. The Wisconsin product gashed Bill Belichick’s vaunted defense for 170 yards and a touchdown, pushing the Colts to 8-6.
With three games left, Tom Brady would need a slip-up by Rodgers or Taylor to make up ground.
Tampa Bay must battle adversity to get back to the Super Bowl
As much as a shutout stings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have bigger fish to fry heading into Week 16. Bruce Arians and company lost several key players to injury during the loss to the Saints.
The most concerning injury appears to be wide receiver Chris Godwin’s. The fifth-year wideout got hit low and suffered an MCL sprain. According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, Godwin will miss the rest of the regular season. The Bucs hope to have him back in time for the playoffs.
Fellow receiver Mike Evans and running back Leonard Fournette each suffered a hamstring injury, Evans in the first half and Fournette in the second. The team ruled both players out for the rest of the game.
Tampa Bay still needs to assess the injuries to Evans and Fournette but can ill-afford to have them miss time, too. The Buccaneers also need Antonio Brown to return to action now more than ever in Godwin’s absence.
Maybe the loss to the Saints was just an off night. Neither Tom Brady nor Rob Gronkowski played well, on top of the injuries.
Despite the offense not doing its job, the Bucs’ defense held New Orleans to only nine points.
Most champions have to battle adversity at some point along the way. For the Buccaneers to repeat in 2021, Tom Brady and the crew need to bounce back in a major way.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference