Drew Brees, the veteran quarterback with the New Orleans Saints has overcome a size disadvantage his entire career as he plays a position that has been reserved for men that are much taller than he.
Brees is just 6-foot and on Sunday at home in the Superdome in front of thousands of Saints’ fans, it did not surprise anyone that Brees was able to out play his counterpart Cam Newton in a playoff matchup between two NFC South rivals.
Brees soon turns 39, which means he was giving up nearly 10 years to the much younger Newton. If that was not enough, Newton stands a half a foot taller and weighs over 50 pounds more than Brees.
Brees Number Versus Newton’s
In the end, Newton’s numbers were strong: 24 completions in 40 attempts, 349 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, but Brees out did that by throwing for 376 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Most importantly, at the end of the game Brees’ team finished with five points more than did Newton’s team.
The 31-26 victory by the New Orleans Saints over the Carolina Panthers summarized all that Brees has done during his 17-year, improbable NFL career and despite being 39, everything he has left in the tank.
Carolina Game Plan Failed
Carolina was beaten in both of its regular season head-to-head games against the Saints. Carolina’s game plan was to stop or at least contain the offensive duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Rookie Kamara and Ingram were the first two backs on the same team to each accumulate over 1,500 yards from scrimmage during the same season.
The idea was to force the veteran Brees into being the catalyst that beat them. They dared the league’s most accurate passer, not of this season but in NFL history, who has a completion percentage of 66.9 for his career, a signal caller who could end his NFL career with more yards passing, completions, and touchdowns that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, to beat them with his golden arm.
In the end, that is just what Brees ending up doing. After a pair of possessions without a first down that began his game, and following a missed short field goal by Carolina, Brees took control of the game with a touchdown pass to his team’s fastest wide receiver.
A defensive look made him shift his gaze toward the left half of the defensive secondary, but what caught his eye was that the Panthers safety had left the middle of the field and Brees felt his wide out Ted Ginn Jr., who was just supposed to clear out the area in his route, could break free deep down the middle and he did resulting the team’s first touchdown.
For Brees, the play blew things open for the Saints as they took a 7-0 lead and never trailed in the game.
Ginn Jr. was quick to point out after the game that with Brees at quarterback a team is never out of a game. Ginn, who once played with the Panthers was seen in the locker room after the game with a broom, which honored the three-game sweep the Saints had over the Panthers this season after defeating them in two head-to-head regular season meetings and now in the playoffs.
Brees was instrumental in the Saints win by throwing at eight different receivers keeping the Panthers defense constantly guessing. All eight of the receivers he threw to during the game made one or more receptions.
Brees Not Insulted
During his postgame interview, Brees was asked numerous questions about the curious approach by the Panthers to make Brees beat them. He quickly realized that the reporters only were interested in knowing if he had felt insulted or somewhat inspired because of the obvious attempt by Carolina to force his passing game to defeat them.
He said that if a team would be doing that, he feels that the matchups his receivers have outside are advantageous. However, he stopped short of saying he was insulted or inspired. He only would say the team proved that it can beat its opponents in different ways.
The veteran signal caller on Sunday proved that he is able to carry a team that is in contention which at the age of 39 is no easy thing.
He and his Saints may not go beyond next week’s game against the Vikings, but what Brees has done is proved he can still come up with huge games when his game of passing during games when opponents shut down the run.
Brees’ stature might be a big disadvantage, but he was able to send out a message that his play makes him much bigger on the field and one day undoubtedly is going to be considered amongst the best to play under center in the NFL.