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Tom Brady leads record 44th fourth-quarter comeback to propel Buccaneers past Saints: 'Just like we drew it up'

In the aftermath of a game-opening field goal drive, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense went silent.

Often looking frustrated on the field and sideline as passes were dropped and drives went awry, Tom Brady and his Buccaneers faced a seemingly insurmountable 13-point deficit with 5:21 to play.

That's when vintage Brady took the field, captaining yet another comeback for the ages as he threw two touchdown passes in the final three minutes to lead the Buccaneers past the New Orleans Saints, 17-16, on Monday Night Football.

"Just like we drew it up," Brady said as he opened his postgame news conference, eliciting a round of laughs. "Just like we drew it up."

It was Brady's NFL-record 44th career fourth-quarter comeback, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning for the most in history, according to NFL Research. Brady -- who finished the evening 36-of-54 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and an interception -- connected with rookie tight end Cade Otton with three minutes to go, leading to a 16-10 Buccaneers deficit. After Tampa Bay's defense held New Orleans to a second straight three-and-out, Brady capped a game-winning drive with a 6-yard game-tying touchdown toss to Rachaad White with only three seconds remaining. A play later, kicker Ryan Succop converted the game-winning extra point.

"It was a great route by Rachaad," Brady said. "Great catch. [Offensive coordinator] Byron [Leftwich] made a great call."

Speaking with ESPN's Lisa Salters after the game, Brady wished his daughter, Vivian, a happy birthday and dedicated the performance to her.

"That's for her. She was a little worried when I said we were playing the Saints. 'Oh no, daddy,'" Brady said.

Vivian's concern stems from her dad's struggles with the Saints in his time with the Bucs, as New Orleans had defeated Brady and Co. in four straight regular-season games from 2020-21. On Monday, though, it was Brady who emerged from the offensive doldrums with a captivating rally that it would seem only he could conjure up.

Prior to Brady and the Bucs' rally revelry, the postgame storyline was destined to be Brady's disenchantment with head coach Todd Bowles' fourth-down decision-making.

Trailing 16-3, Tampa faced fourth-and-10 from its own 25-yard line with 7:06 to go. Odds were long for a conversion, but seemingly longer at any comeback hopes with a punt. Brady tried to keep the offense on the field. Instead, the Buccaneers punted away possession.

With the final result delivering the final verdict on the call, Bowles' move proved to be the right one, as the Tampa defense came up huge, leading to Brady coming up even bigger.

"Great job by coach Bowles, I give him all the credit," Brady told Salters. "That's what he wanted and look how it turned out. So, I'll take it."

With the Saints staring at third-and-1 on the Tampa 44, they owned a 13-point lead and the Bucs had all of a 0.7% win probability, according to Next Gen Stats.

Just as it looked improbable that a Bucs win would be had Monday evening, Tampa's defense held and bestowed Brady with the ball, beginning the fourth-largest league comeback based on win probability in the Next Gen era (since 2016).

The 45-year-old Brady's career has defied probability, however, and Monday was the latest example.

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