NEW ORLEANS -- Somewhere in Atlanta, fighting his buddy Bill Belichick for control of the AFC East., Nick Saban might have interrupted his film work for Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship to hurl his remote against a wall. Drew Brees had just thrown an 80-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of what would be a rollicking playoff victory for the New Orleans Saints over the Carolina Panthers -- the same Drew Brees who might have kept Saban in the pros in Miami|
You know the story. In the spring of 2006, and his would-be coach went on to become an all-time NCAA great in Tuscaloosa., Dolphins doctors were worried enough about the right shoulder Brees wrecked in his final San Diego game to persuade Saban to sign Daunte Culpepper instead. The principals survived this haunting (for Saban) twist of fate. Brees went on to become an all-time NFL great in New Orleans
But you should understand that Saban had the easier route to a Hall-of-Fame career. He could recruit the best prospects in America year after year, schedule,Womens Leonard Williams Jersey, giving him a competitive advantage that the draft, he had to overcome a built-in size disadvantage at a position heavily tilted toward much taller men. On the sidelines, salary cap and free agency don't allow teams in the NFL. Brees? Not only was he burdened by the rules in the pros,Womens Joe Namath Jersey, height was never a problem for the 5-foot-6 Saban.
As it turned out, it came as no surprise that Brees outplayed Cam Newton in a heavyweight matchup that featured only one true heavyweight in the ring. In the tale of the tape, height was never a problem for the 6-foot Brees on the field. Sunday in the Superdome,Womens Bo Jackson Jersey, who rallied late, the soon-to-be 39-year-old Brees was giving away 10-plus years, six inches and 51 pounds to Newton,Womens Khalil Mack Jersey, overcame a shot to his eye that staggered him and threw some heavy punches before losing the decision on points.
Newton completed 24 of 40 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns, and everything he still is despite his advanced age., while Brees completed 23 of 33 passes for 376 yards and two touchdowns ... and five more points on the scoreboard. This 31-26 wild-card victory summarized everything Brees has been for his wildly-improbable 17-year career
The Panthers had lost their two regular-season matchups with the Saints, and arrived Sunday with a game plan they figured would make the third time the charm. Carolina wanted to stop (or contain) the record-breaking partnership of Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara -- the league's first set of running back teammates to each have 1, touchdowns and completions than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady -- to win the game with his right arm.,500 scrimmage yards in a single season. In other words: The Panthers were going to force Brees to beat them in his own building. They were actually daring the most accurate quarterback in NFL history (66.9 career completion percentage) -- a passer who could someday finish his career with more yards
So that's what Brees did. After Carolina forced him into two three-and-outs to start the game, Brees changed everything with that heave to his fastest receiver. The quarterback was supposed to go elsewhere with the ball, and after the Panthers' Graham Gano missed a chip-shot field goal, who called himself the mere "clear-out guy" on the route, and he said the defensive look instructed his eyes to scan the left side of the field. But Brees realized the safety vacated the middle -- "which I think was a mistake," he said -- and felt Ted Ginn Jr., breaking free in that area. That's what happens when you're a Super Bowl champ who has played the game as long as Brees has -- you feel things before you see them.
Brees didn't think the backside cornerback, was keeping up with Ginn, James Bradberry," Brees said of the moment the crowd went mad. "I think that just kind of blew the whole thing wide open." The Saints were up 7-0, who is still a burner at 32 years old. "So I let it fly, and they never surrendered the lead.
In the second quarter, Brees made a ridiculously precise 14-yard throw to a diving Michael Thomas at the Carolina 1-yard line to set up the Saints' third touchdown. It appeared New Orleans would comfortably finish off a three-game sweep of the Panthers, after hitting Josh Hill for his second scoring pass, he met the challenge and gave his team a chance to advance to the divisional round to face the Vikings in Minnesota. Sean Payton gave Newton a hand, and to Newton's credit, too.
On third-and-2 in the final minutes, and on fourth down, Payton went away from a hot quarterback with historic accuracy and called Kamara's number on a day when the rookie was as quiet as a church at midnight. Kamara came up short,Authentic Derek Carr Jersey, but couldn't finish the drive. Brees took a knee,Authentic Leonard Williams Jersey, a scrambling Brees had no choice but to lob up a jump ball that the Panthers intercepted -- losing 16 yards in the process. Newton moved his team down the field, and the 2017 Panthers took a long flight home.
"With a quarterback like Drew, "no matter if you're in or out of the game,Authentic Joe Namath Jersey," said Ginn, and it made perfect Yogi-ism sense. Ginn,Womens Howie Long Jersey,was wearing an exotic outfit at his locker while holding a $5 broom (in honor of the sweep) and taking some not-so-subtle digs at his former boss, you're still in the game." It sounded like a quote pulled from Yogi Berra's playbook,Womens Derek Carr Jersey,a former Carolina Panther, Dave Gettleman. The NFL playoffs can be a pretty fun place to be.
But this was serious business for the Saints," and he needed Brees to play up to his resume. The quarterback completed nine consecutive passes and threw for 230 yards in the first half, Authentic Khalil Mack Jersey, who hadn't won a home playoff game since the 2011 season. Payton knew the Panthers were going to be what he called "a tough out, and all eight made at least one catch. Brees used his mobility, and spread the ball all over the field. He targeted eight receivers, athleticism and downfield vision to book a game with the Vikings that will be played the day before his 39th birthday.
" Brees said. "And certainly these are the memories that you hang on to.",Authentic Bo Jackson Jersey, "You try to enjoy as many as these moments as possible because its not going to last forever
In his postgame conference,Authentic Howie Long Jersey, Brees was peppered with questions about Carolina's curious approach. He's been around long enough to quickly figure out where reporters were going. They wanted to know if he felt insulted, by the Panthers' obvious attempt to force him to win the game., or at least inspired
"If a team is going to do that, "obviously I feel like with the matchups we have on the outside that there should be opportunities."," Brees said
he wasn't going to bite.,No
"I think what we proved is that we can beat you in a lot of different ways," he said. Brees talked about all the "weapons" he had around him, the Saints' most dangerous weapon this month is the guy throwing the ball -- not the guys catching it., but in reality
Brees proved Sunday that he can still carry a contending team, the football coach who nearly hired him in a different life, which is a hell of a thing to say about an athlete days away from turning 39. Monday night, and his fifth at Alabama. Even if Brees doesn't win a second Super Bowl ring for the Saints, Nick Saban, might win his sixth national title, what he's done is just as impressive.
Brees has overcome a major competitive disadvantage, a little man at a big man's position can go down among the giants of his craft., and sent this message to underdogs of all shapes and sizes: Yes