The #2 defining moment of the Saints 2020 season came in the NFC Divisional Round of the 2021 NFL Playoffs. New Orleans held the lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half, but costly turnovers shifted the momentum, and Tampa Bay advanced to the NFC Championship game.
New Orleans and Tampa Bay met two times in the regular season before being matched up against each other in the NFC Divisional Round. The Saints won 34-23 in Week 1 and 38-3 in Week 9.
All eyes were focused on the pair of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the NFC South after Brady signed a two-year contract with the Buccaneers. Brees vs. Brady became top billing on national media storylines. The intensified coverage continued when they played against each other in the NFC Divisional Round playoff game.
The New Orleans defense stole the show in both regular-season meetings, although the offense shined with impressive numbers during the wins. Brees & Co. collected 691 yards and eight touchdowns in the regular-season meetings and hoped to find similar success in their postseason's final game at home.
However, the Buccaneers entered the third matchup with the Saints as a completely different team. Their dominance on the ground created play-action opportunities for Brady and slowed the Saints' pass rush that was so effective in the first two matchups.
Brees led the offense and converted long drives into two touchdowns twice in the first 40 minutes of play, and held a 20-13 lead into the third quarter.
It was 3rd and 2 from New Orleans' 45-yard line. Brees connected with tight end Jared Cook. Cook advanced the football into Buccaneers territory, then the game's turning point hit the Saints.
Tampa Bay's safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. stripped the ball from Cook. He fumbled, and the Buccaneers recovered the football at New Orleans' 40-yard line.
Two minutes later, Tom Brady connected with New Orleans native and former LSU standout running back Leonard Fournette for a touchdown. The game was tied at 20. Following the score, New Orleans' offense never found its groove and struggled in the contest.
The Saints failed to score in their final three possessions and committed two turnovers. Tampa Bay would win 30-20 and play the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship.
New Orleans' four turnovers were too big of a ditch to climb out of against the Bucs. Tampa Bay would win Super Bowl 55 and become the first team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Saints News Intern Joe McGuan contributed to the Article Series: Top 10 Defining Moments of Saints 2020 Season.
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