TAMPA, Fla. — Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady, and the battle for supremacy of the NFC South, was a one-sided affair.
Brees threw for 222 yards and four touchdowns, regaining the NFL career TD pass lead and lifting the New Orleans Saints into first place with a 38-3 rout of Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night.
The three-time defending division champion won their fifth straight game, intercepting Brady three times and completing a season sweep of the Bucs (6-3), who also suffered a double-digit loss at New Orleans in Week 1.
“Each time you can win and find different ways to win, I think it just builds confidence and creates momentum,” Brees said.
“Obviously, tonight was a great night,” he added. “All the way around, in all three phases, it was pretty exceptional.”
The Saints (6-2) weren’t perfect — turning the ball over twice themselves — however the offence was extremely efficient with receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back in the lineup, and the defence played its best game of the season.
Brees was 26 of 32 passing, including first-half TD throws of 14 yards to Tre’Quan Smith, 8 yards to Adam Trautman and 12 yards to Sanders, who missed the previous two games while on the COVID-19 list. The 41-year-old added a 3-yarder to Josh Hill to make it 38-0 with just over nine minutes remaining.
“We knew this was a big game, divisional opponent, Tampa’s playing extremely well,” said Brees, who lost a fumble on Tampa Bay’s only sack but did not throw an interception.
“Obviously we’ve been a little short-handed over last few weeks … Tonight, it was good to get everybody back, get them back in the mix,” Brees added. “We wanted the spread the ball around, we wanted to play complementary football. I can’t say enough about our defence, they just played phenomenal.”
Brees regained the league career TD pass lead with 564, three more than the 43-year-old Brady, who had thrown for 17 touchdowns and just one interception over his previous six games. The Saints intercepted Brady twice in a 34-23 season-opening win, with Janoris Jenkins returning one for a TD.
Defensive Tackle David Onyemata and safeties Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins picked off Brady this time — the last on a throw the six-time Super Bowl threw wildly into the middle of the field as scrambled to avoid a relentless pass rush.
“We didn’t play well in any phase of the game,” Brady said.
“Everyone’s got to do a lot better,” the Bucs quarterback added, “and it starts with me.”
Brady was sacked three times and finished 22 of 38 for 209 yards, including three completions for 31 yards to Antonio Brown, who made his debut for Tampa Bay in his return from an eight-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
The Bucs ran the ball just five times, including Blaine Gabbert‘s kneel-down on the final snap of the night.
The Saints scored on five of their first six possessions to build a 31-0 halftime lead, and the Bucs were fortunate the biggest first-half deficit of Brady’s career wasn’t larger.
Jared Cook fumbled at the Bucs 2 with the Saints looking to build on an early 7-0 lead. But with Tampa Bay’s offence sputtering and one of the league’s stingiest defences unable to slow down Brees, New Orleans pressed on.
“That’s the most complete game we’ve played … It’s poetry in motion when we get going like that,” Saints running back Alvin Kamara said.
Brady’s first interception, ending a Bucs franchise-record streak of 200 consecutive pass attempts without a pick, led to Kamara’s 1-yard TD run that made it 28-0 midway through the second quarter.
The Saints outgained the Bucs 241 yards to 36 up to that point. They added Will Lutz’s 36-yard field goal and a second interception, with Marcus Williams snaring a deep throw intended for Brown in the closing minutes of the opening half.
Tampa Bay avoided a shutout with Ryan Succop‘s 48-yard field goal with 5:52 remaining.
Arians was asked why, with the Bucs trailing by 38 points, he kept Brady in the game in the face of a strong pass rush.
“To get points on the board,” Arians said. “He’s the quarterback.”
Gabbert replaced Brady at the end after the Saints turned the ball over on downs with former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston filling in for Brees in the final minute.
Brees and Brady, who also rank first and second on the career passing yards list, met for only the seventh time. Brees holds a 5-2 edge in the matchups.
The two chatted briefly on the field after the game.
“We’ve been playing against each other for 22 years? So, there’s obviously a lot of respect there,” Brees said.
“Throughout our careers I think what we both say is just how grateful we are to have this opportunity to play this great game,” Brees added, “to play as long as we’ve been able to play it, play with so many great teams, great coaches, great players. So, just thankful for that.”
RUNNING IN PLACE
Tampa Bay set an NFL record with just five rushing attempts in a 38-3 loss to New Orleans, and that includes backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s kneel-down on the final snap of the night. Ronald Jones ran three times for 9 yards, Leonard Fournette had one carry for no gain, and Gabbert lost a yard to give Tampa Bay 8 yards rushing for the game. The previous record for fewest runs was six, set four times previously and most recently by Minnesota against Buffalo in 2018.
Saints: WR Michael Thomas played for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain during the Saints’ season-opening win over the Bucs. He finished with five receptions for 51 yards.
Buccaneers: WR Chris Godwin (three catches, 41 yards) returned after missing one game with a broken right index finger. … LG Ali Marpet (concussion) was inactive. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Joe Haeg.
Saints: 49ers at home on Sunday.
Buccaneers: at Carolina on Sunday.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Raptors’ Alex Len presents untapped talent at low risk – Sportsnet.ca
Likely fitting in as another end-of-rotation depth piece, Len, along with the reported signings of Aron Baynes and Chris Boucher, fill out Toronto’s depth chart at the centre position with the departures of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol.
Here’s more on what he might be able to provide the Raptors.
Height: Seven feet | Weight: 250 pounds
Former team: Sacramento Kings
2019-20 stats: PPG: 8.0 | RPG: 5.8 | FG%: 55.5
A former top-five pick
Believe it or not, back in 2013 the Phoenix Suns took Len fifth overall in the NBA draft.
Granted that wasn’t exactly a world-beater draft year, but even back then it seemed a little high. As such, the “bust” moniker has dogged him for much of his career.
With that said, this could be to the Raptors’ benefit.
According to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, Len is signing a one-year deal with the remainder of the team’s mid-level exception — which comes out to just about the minimum — giving the Raptors an opportunity to see if he might be able to pan out as a reclamation project of sorts at almost no risk, like they’ve attempted in the past with names like Bismack Biyombo and Jared Sullinger.
Obviously, one of those guys worked out and the other didn’t, and we don’t know the outcome of the Len experiment yet, but adding more depth at centre with the possibility of some untapped talent at little risk seems like as good an idea as any.
A classic, bruising big
As for Len’s game, the main reason why he didn’t live up to his draft billing is because the style of the play in the NBA passed him by. His low-post skills have become much less valuable and his inability to stretch the floor with outside shooting make him something of a liability as he’s not a feature centre that will have plays run for him and be surrounded by shooters himself.
Len is an old-school centre with limited offensive game outside of post-ups and tip-ins around the basket. However, he’s so big and strong that when given the opportunity, he’s quite adept at doing those two things.
Unfortunately, he lacks athleticism so he isn’t a player who’s going to do much above the rim, but he can make up for it with his great motor and general energy he brings to the game when on the floor. There will be no fear of a lack of effort from Len.
Defensively, Len might be able to show his value more as he’s a good shot-blocker with excellent timing on when to go up and contest the ball. Looking at his combined numbers split between the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks (who dealt him to the Kings on trade deadline day), Len averaged nearly two blocks per 36 minutes. Additionally, he has quicker feet and is more agile than you might think just looking at him, meaning he can defend some pick-and-roll as well.
Though he may not feature the ideal skill package you want in a modern NBA big man, Len still has some he can bring to the table.
His name makes for some obvious puns
All right, come on. Get it out of your system now:
Report: Raptors reach deal with C Len – TSN
The Toronto Raptors have reached a deal with free agent centre Alex Len, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
ESPN reports the one-year deal is worth $2.3 million.
Len was traded in February from the Atlanta Hawks to the Sacramento Kings. He averaged eight points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 60 games between the two teams.
The 27-year-old was selected fifth overall by the Phoenix Suns in 2013 NBA Draft out of Maryland. He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Suns before joining the Hawks in 2018.
A veteran of 467 NBA games, Len has a career average of eight points and 6.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game.
The move helps to boost the frontcourt of the Raptors after the team lost Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in free agency over the weekend.
Len is coming off of a two-year, $8.5 million deal signed with the Hawks.
The Antratsyt, Ukraine native becomes the third addition to the Raptors’ frontcourt in the past 48 hours with the team also signing free agent centre Aron Baynes and forward DeAndre Bembry.
The Dinos also agreed to terms on a two-year, $13.5 million deal with restricted free agent and Montreal native Chris Boucher to return to the club.
NBPA delegation meets with Pope Francis to discuss social justice issues – Sportsnet.ca
While much of the basketball world’s attention may be fixed on last week’s free-agent frenzy, players haven’t lost sight of the social issues that prompted them to bring the league to a standstill over the summer.
On Monday, a delegation from the National Basketball Player Association — consisting of Marco Belinelli, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac, Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver — met with Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss efforts to address social and economic injustice and inequality in their communities.
“We are extremely honoured to have had this opportunity to come to the Vatican and share our experiences with Pope Francis,” said Korver in a press release.
“His openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward.”
Korver has been outspoken in his desire to help fight anti-Black racism and was part of the Milwaukee Bucks team that sat out a post-season game to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis., prompting strikes in solidarity across the NBA and other major sports leagues.
Earlier this month, Brown, who was also on that Bucks team but has since signed with the Houston Rockets, agreed to a $750,000 settlement of a lawsuit filed against Milwaukee police after getting taken to the ground, shocked with a Taser and arrested during a 2018 encounter.
Pope Francis, who has gained a reputation for being progressive and modernizing the Vatican, spoke out after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May, saying, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
Raptors’ Alex Len presents untapped talent at low risk – Sportsnet.ca
Apple extends concession on store fees for some apps – Kitco NEWS
The reason why liquor and cannabis stores are considered essential services in Manitoba – CTV News Winnipeg
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Galaxy M31 July 2020 security update brings Glance, a content-driven lockscreen wallpaper service
- Health23 hours ago
Alberta reports more COVID-19 cases on Sunday than any other province – CTV Edmonton
- Sports23 hours ago
The Raptors’ loss of Serge Ibaka leaves a big hole, on the court and off – Toronto Star
- Economy21 hours ago
The Economy: On The Other Side Of The Abyss – Forbes
- Media23 hours ago
China planning new policies to take on ageing population: state media – TheChronicleHerald.ca
- Art21 hours ago
Vancouver Art Gallery's fall lineup shows there's more to Victor Vasarely's universal visual language – Ubyssey Online
- Health24 hours ago
Alberta reports more new COVID-19 cases than Ontario and Quebec; 1,584 new cases, no deaths – Calgary Herald
- Sports15 hours ago
How much better does Montrezl Harrell actually make the Los Angeles Lakers? – NBA CA
- Economy23 hours ago
Rishi Sunak warned UK economy needs £164bn stimulus boost – Yahoo Canada Sports