NEW ORLEANS (AP) — It certainly looked like the Saints were into Tom Brady’s head when the Buccaneers quarterback threw a tablet in the bench area and then bit New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore after an incomplete pass.
How quickly a game can change when emotions boil over.
Brady helped spark a skirmish that led to the ejection of Lattimore and Bucs receiver Mike Evans, then threw a touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman that propelled Tampa Bay to a 20-10 win over New Orleans on Sunday .
“It’s an emotional game,” Brady said flatly. “A little execution helps all around. I think the defense played well again and the offensive line put up a good fight.
“Tough game all around,” Brady added. “They’re a very good team, very well trained – a team we really struggle with. So it feels good to win.
Brady, who had lost four straight regular season meetings with the Saints, struggled again through the first three quarters of this grueling latest encounter between the NFC South rivals.
Brady’s frustration was clear when he was forcefully filmed throw a tablet on the lawn with a healthy bend in his torso and a full follow through of his prolific right arm.
And after his third incomplete pass early in the fourth quarter, Brady was yelling at Lattimore when running back Leonard Fournette entered the fray and pushed the Saints’ star cornerback. Lattimore responded by pushing Fournette, and Evans rushed in and flattened Lattimore – much like he did in a 2017 game between those teams.
“I was just trying to get my teammate’s back,” Evans said. “I saw (Lattimore) hit somebody. I wasn’t going to let that happen. … We know when you come to New Orleans it gets spicy.”
Evans was ejected, as he was five seasons ago. But this time so did Lattimore, who didn’t speak to the media after the game.
“It hurts to lose your best corner,” defensive end Cameron Jordan said. “Guys shoot him because they know he’s one of the best corners in the league.
“When I saw the replay, (Lattimore) didn’t chase anyone. Someone came after him,” Jordan said. “What do you want him to do in this situation?
With Paulson Adebo sitting with an ankle injury, Lattimore’s ejection left the Saints without their top two cornerbacks – and Brady took advantage.
In Tampa Bay’s next series, Brady marched the Bucs (2-0) to New Orleans’ 28, then hit Perriman in the back right corner of the end zone to make it 10- 3.
“We lost a good player and they lost a good player. It was a physical game,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. “I don’t know if it was a turning point. … It could have gone either way. We knew we had to make a few plays.
The Bucs defense snuffed out the Saints’ comeback attempt by intercepting Jameis Winston three times in the final 12 minutes. Jamel Dean made the first two picks – one on a through pass aimed at rookie Chris Olave on the goal line. Later, safety Mike Edwards returned an interception near the right sideline 68 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-3.
Brady was 18 of 34 for 190 yards and the lone TD.
Winston, who had been limited in practice by a back injury, completed 25 of 40 passes for 236 yards and a late TD throw to Michael Thomas.
“Everyone in this locker room is playing with something broken,” Winston said. “What’s most important is offensively, I have to do a better job of executing on third downs and I can’t give them the football.”
Tampa Bay didn’t score until Ryan Succop hit a 47-yard field goal with 3:09 left in the third quarter to tie it at 3.
The Saints (1-1) were threatening to regain the lead when safety Logan Ryan hit the ball without the catch from running back Mark Ingram to the Buccaneers 10, and linebacker Carl Nassib recovered.
“We were moving the ball well, coming in to take control of the game. It just can’t happen,” Ingram said. “Whether it’s a good punch, whether it’s a tear, whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter.”
Wil Lutz’s 31-yard field goal in Game 1 gave the Saints a lead that held throughout a first half in which Tampa Bay squandered two scoring opportunities.
Brady’s failed snap on the third and short of the New Orleans 34 ended a practice. The Bucs also fell short on a fourth-and-one of the New Orleans 8 when Carl Granderson stuffed the run from Fournette.
Buccaneers: Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks left the game with a foot injury and reserve left tackle Josh Wells, who was starting for inactive Donovan Smith (elbow), left with a calf injury. Receiver Julio Jones was called off before the game with a knee injury.
Saints: Top running back Alvin Kamara was inactive due to a rib injury.
Buccaneers: Host Green Bay on Sept. 25.
Saints: visit Carolina on September 25.
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