Only one team consistently confounded Tom Brady during his two-decade rule in the AFC: the Denver Broncos.
They were the only team that had a winning record against him while he was winning six rings with the Patriots, going 9-8 against Brady. Mike Shanahan is the only head coach to beat him five times, and Denver took three of four from Brady in the playoffs, twice in the AFC championship behind Peyton Manning.
Brady’s new kryptonite in the NFC is the New Orleans Saints
They beat him for the third time in four tries Sunday when Dennis Allen dialed up a defense that denied Brady another of his patented game-winning drives in the closing minutes and deked him into throwing an interception that P.J. Williams turned into a pick-six that sealed the Saints’ 36-27 victory.
“I just threw it to the wrong guy,” said Brady, who also had two second-quarter turnovers that New Orleans converted into nine points. “I had Mike (Evans) open. It cost us the game.”
The Saints, led by backup QB Trevor Siemian after starter Jameis Winston’s season-ending knee injury, took a 29-27 lead on Brad Johnson’s chip shot field goal after they stalled at the Buccaneers’ 5-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
That left Brady with a minute, 41 seconds and one timeout to get the Bucs into position for a field goal and his 51st career comeback.
So many times we’ve seen Brady chew up the clock and the yards on his way to leading his team to victory in these situations.
Not this time
His first pass, to Evans, fell incomplete. His second, to Chris Godwin, was picked off by Williams, who returned 40 yards down the sideline for the touchdown.
Sean Payton ran up to Allen to celebrate another masterful game plan that stifled Brady, who threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns, but also committed a trio of turnovers that the Saints converted into 16 points.
“It’s tough to win when you turn the ball over like we did,” Brady said. “So, I have to not throw interceptions. That’s the key.”
Ever since bolting the New England snow and shovels for Florida’s sand and sunshine, Brady has been unable to solve the Saints defense, save for his divisional playoff win last season when Drew Brees was tottering toward retirement.
Since Brady’s Arrival
Since Brady’s arrival, the Buccaneers have had just three games out of 28 in which they’ve had five or more combined sacks and turnovers, and all three have come against the Saints, who sacked Brady three times Sunday.
Including the playoffs, Brady has thrown 67 touchdown passes with just 13 interceptions against all other teams, but against the Saints he has just eight TD throws and seven interceptions.
He’s 20-4 against all other opponents, 1-3 against the Saints, who have found a way to mix talent and technique with timing and scheming to make Brady look mortal, forcing him into the kinds of bad throws that only the Broncos used to be able to do, back when they jockeyed with the Patriots for AFC supremacy.
The Saints’ victory kept the Bucs (6-2) from getting too far ahead of them in the NFC South race, where they’re just a half-game back.
With contributions from AP Pro Football Writers Dave Campbell and Dennis Waszak Jr. and AP Sports Writer Brett Martel.