TAMPA, Fla. -- Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final three minutes Monday night, helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rally from a 13-point deficit to beat the New Orleans Saints 17-16 and tighten their grip on first place in the weak NFC South.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion tossed a 1-yard TD pass to rookie Cade Otton, finishing a 91-yard drive to pull within 16-10 with exactly three minutes remaining. He got the ball back with 2:29 to go, then won it with a 6-yard throw to another rookie, Rachaad White, with three seconds left.
Andy Dalton threw for 225 yards and a touchdown without an interception for New Orleans, but the Saints ultimately paid for having to settle for three field goals by Wil Lutz on drives deep into Bucs territory.
The Bucs (6-6) extended their division lead over the Atlanta Falcons to 11/2 games. The last-place Saints (4-9) missed out on opportunity to pull into a tie for second with the Falcons. None of the four teams in the NFC South has a winning record.
Brady, who before the game exchanged greetings with the biggest prize on this winter's baseball free agent market AL MVP Aaron Judge, finished 36 of 54 for 281 yards and 2 touchdowns.
A week after being shutout for the first time in 332 games, the Saints built a 10-3 halftime lead on Dalton's 30-yard scoring pass to Taysom Hill and a 38-yard field goal set up by just the third interception Brady has thrown all season.
An interception by Demario Davis (Arkansas State) was only the eighth takeaway New Orleans defense -- by far a league-low -- in 13 games. Defensive end Cameron Jordan later forced a fumble that the Saints turned into a 12-play, 7-minute, 20-second drive that Lutz finished with a 21-yard field goal, making it 13-3 late in the third quarter.
Judge was on the sidelines before the game -- posing for pictures, signing autographs and wearing a Mike Evans No. 13 Buccaneers jersey. The team also tweeted a short video of Brady greeting the slugger, who has an offseason home in Tampa, where the New York Yankees hold spring training. Judge set an American League record with 62 homers with the Yankees this year. He also led the AL with 131 RBI and finished second with a .311 batting average.
TB--FG Succop 21, 6:25.
NO--Hill 30 pass from Dalton (Lutz kick), 7:33.
NO--FG Lutz 38, :20.
NO--FG Lutz 21, 2:46.
NO--FG Lutz 29, 8:02.
TB--Otton 1 pass from Brady (Succop kick), 3:00.
TB--R.White 6 pass from Brady (Succop kick), :03.
Total Net Yards304350
Time of Possession30:1929:41
RUSHING--New Orleans, Ingram 7-27, Kamara 12-26, Hill 3-10, Prentice 1-2, Dalton 1-1, Shaheed 1-0. Tampa Bay, Fournette 10-49, R.White 9-28, Brady 1-(minus 1).
PASSING--New Orleans, Dalton 20-28-0-235, Hill 1-1-0-21. Tampa Bay, Brady 36-54-1-281.
RECEIVING--New Orleans, Ingram 5-22, Shaheed 4-81, Olave 4-65, Hill 2-35, Trautman 2-28, Landry 2-14, Kamara 2-11. Tampa Bay, Godwin 8-63, R.White 6-41, Fournette 6-32, Otton 6-28, Evans 4-59, Jones 3-28, Kieft 1-12, Gage 1-11, Miller 1-7.