All the hype surrounding Tom Brady’s highly anticipated Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut fizzled in Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints. Brady looked and played the part of a 43-ear-old quarterback, finishing 23 of 36 for 239 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions — including one returned for a touchdown — in the 34-23 loss. Even though Brady was playing in a new offense for the first time since he suited up for the University of Michigan in 1999, the Buccaneers (still weird to type it) quarterback doesn’t have any excuses for his lackluster debut. 

“Well, I certainly think poor execution, and that’s what it comes down to. It’s a game of execution,” Brady said. “Obviously, they made more plays than we did and I just made some bad, terrible turnovers and it’s hard to win turning the ball over like that. I obviously have to do a lot better job.

“I think any time you turn the ball over like we did – we had opportunities to make plays and just came up short, so there’s no excuses and we’re the only ones that can do something about it. The Saints kind of play how they always play. They did a good job on offense. We hung our defense out to dry on some short fields; not moving the ball, not doing very well on third down at certain times. The turnovers really hurt us and we have to clean that up for next week – got to do a lot better job.”

Brady showed flashes of brilliance on Tampa Bay’s opening drive, finding Chris Godwin on a 29-yard strike for his first completion in a Buccaneers uniform. Brady finished 2 for 2 for 37 yards and scored a rushing touchdown on the first drive — the oldest player to score a touchdown in NFL history — to give Tampa Bay the early lead. 

“He came out lighting it up – we go right down the field and score a touchdown,” said Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians. “I wouldn’t say he was out of sync at all until we started screwing it up. We didn’t run the ball as well as I thought we would on the edges. We had some success [and] we had some good drives and we had some really poor drives. But the turnovers and the penalties were the key.”

The Buccaneers ran 26 plays after the Brady touchdown, totaling just 72 yards. Brady threw two interceptions — one that was returned 34 yards for a score by Janoris Jenkins to put the Saints up 24-7 — and Ryan Succop had a 54-yard field goal blocked as the game got out of hand.

One of Brady’s biggest errors was a pass targeted to Mike Evans, who was playing with a hamstring injury, that was nowhere near the direction of the Pro Bowl receiver. Brady’s first interception was part of a struggling day finding Evans, who finished with just one catch for two yards on four targets. 

“He thought Mike was going down the middle – it was a different coverage – Mike read it right. He should have been across his face, but Tom overthrew it,” Arians said. “The other one was a screen pass with an outlet called. He threw the outlet and it was a pick-six. Bad decision.”

Brady eventually got into a rhythm later in the game, actually finding Evans for a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. He finished 13 of 19 for 141 yards and two touchdowns after throwing the pick-six, but the damage was already done for the Buccaneers. 

The disappointment from Brady’s face was evident, but it’s only Round 1 in a 16-game marathon. 

“We’ve got to learn from it and we have to do a much better job next week,” Brady said. “We play good teams and we can’t make mistakes, and obviously I made too many mistakes today. That’s what I have to do. I’m going to focus on what I have to do and I have to do a lot better job.

“We’ve just got to get back to work and try to learn from the mistakes. There are no excuses. We wanted to play better, we just didn’t get it done.” 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here