Sunday night wrap-up: Brees joins select company


There might still be better quarterbacks in the NFL than Drew Brees.

But there’s not a better blend of quarterback, coach and building than Brees, Sean Payton and the Superdome.

The three of them together haven’t lost since the end of the 2010 season (throwing out Payton’s 2012 suspension).

Brees was at his clinical best in the Saints’ 31-13 win over the Panthers, extending his dominance at home and in prime time.

Brees was 30-of-42 passing for 313 yards and four touchdowns, bouncing back from a three-and-out on his first possession to effectively end the game in the second quarter.

And that was against a defense that entered the game leading the league in points allowed, which was coming in on an eight-game win streak.

Brees also became the fifth quarterback to top the 50,000-yard plateau with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and John Elway. While Manning was the previous fastest to that mark, needing 191 games, Brees just did it in his 183rd.

That speaks to his own ability, but also the right mix of atmosphere and a coach who knows how to maximize his talents.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. The Saints didn’t drill the Panthers because Panthers safety Mike Mitchell called Brees “soft.”

They drilled them because Brees is a lot better at his job than Mitchell and his friends are at theirs.

The Panthers have survived despite a makeshift secondary rather than because of it, based on the fact they had been able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

The best of the lot is cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, an undersized former seventh-rounder. Munnerlyn’s a solid nickel who is too often forced into physical mismatches because the Panthers don’t have better options.

Guys such as Drayton Florence and Melvin White aren’t playing for a lot of other teams, but they were part of the league’s best defense entering the week.

But when that pressure they’ve counted on wasn’t there (Brees was sacked twice, with backup defensive end Mario Addison getting the line’s lone sack), against a quarterback at the top of his game in his own house, that secondary was exposed.

When you line up undrafted rookies and minimum-wage veterans, the guys up front have to be perfect. The moment they weren’t, the cast-offs were exposed.

2. Because of tiebreaker advantages, the 10-3 Saints are now close to wrapping up the NFC South, and with it the home game in the playoffs and a bye.

That’s huge, because other than the team they were just flattened by (the Seahawks), there’s not a team with a better vibe in their own building.

Now the Panthers have to be ready to take their show on the road, to play the Eagles or Cowboys or the Lions — assuming they don’t let this loss snowball on them.

The Panthers are just a game ahead of the 8-5 Cardinals, who have a head-to-head tiebreaker on them.

3. One of the biggest questions with the Saints this year, as they tried to fix a defense which set a league record for yards allowed last year, was where the pressure was coming from.

The answer is everywhere.

They got good rush from Junior Galette, which they needed. But they also got blitz pressure up the middle and from defensive backs off the edge, keeping the Panthers guessing throughout the night.

4. Panthers right guard Nate Chandler peeks over his shoulder for line calls prior to almost every snap. It almost makes it look like he’s been an offensive lineman for a few months.

Wait, that’s the case. The former defensive tackle has been forced into action as the Panthers sixth choice at the position this year.

Chandler’s part of a right side of the Panthers line that has been exploited this season. Along with right tackle Byron Bell, it’s a side of a line that has to be game-planned out of the game, with tight ends and roll outs to get away from the inevitable pressure.

As solid as they’ve been on the left with Jordan Gross bouncing back nicely and Travelle Wharton filling in at left guard alongside the stellar center Ryan Kalil, the other side has been a mess.

5. The Saints win was comfortable enough that critiquing individual play calls might be considered quibbling.

But Payton made a couple of unusual decisions which could have been big in closer games.

Not taking a penalty early in the third quarter cost him an automatic first down, in exchange for a 2-yard difference. Then electing for a field goal later in the fourth (when a short fourth-down conversion would have sealed it) seemed like a curious choice.

Again, it’s a brush stroke on a masterpiece, but Payton had a few calls that weren’t as urgent as you’d think they would have been.

41 responses to “Sunday night wrap-up: Brees joins select company

  1. “They drilled them because Brees is a lot better at his job than Mitchell and his friends are at theirs.”

    I love that sentence. Champs play, chumps talk. The saints took that Seattle game on the chin and said NOTHING. Oh yeah, looks like Steve Smith had to “ice up” after that hit from Kenny.

  2. Carolina can’t win a shootout, and against elite offenses their defense is pedestrian. They’re not a bad team, but they’re definitely not an elite team either. Maybe in another season or two.

  3. I thought the field goal was a good decision. Take the points in case something goes wrong.

    I don’t understand why you refuse to give Bree’s credit when he is setting records, but instead try to degrade the guy by citing three additional reasons why he isn’t the best qb (including a fricking building? A few years ago the saints couldn’t win at home…explain that.) it’s just offensive to me that you can’t give someone credit.

  4. Panthers stacked the team for Newton his first couple of seasons. Now they’re up against the cap, with some of the vets past their prime. This past stretch may be as good as it gets for the team.

  5. Where are all the big mouth trash talking Panther fans bragging about how tuff they are and the whipping they were gonna put on the aints?
    Yep, you should put your tail between your legs and hang your head in shame.

  6. “Brees also became the fifth quarterback to top the 50,000-yard plateau with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass…”
    Um Brees hit the record 1 or 2 passes before the Touchdown not on the touchdown…

  7. Translation: Brees/Payton is the best “system” quarterback since Montana/Walsh…Saints can win-out to the NFC Championship so long as they play at home in the Dome…the Panthers still have many holes and Sham Newton is not good enough to elevate his play to overcome them as Brees, Manning, Rodgers and Brady are able…the Saints have a number of adequate pass rushers who will be overpaid in the offseason by an inept general manager who is unable as most in the NFL to evaluate talent…Payton, though an amazing offensive mind, is still shaking of the rust as one of the former best game managers in the business…the Panthers may have been exposed as pretenders and are unable to handle the spot light when it is shown on them…Really hope the Saints don’t overpay for Galette as they did for Will Smith… both of the before-mentioned had great games against inferior offensive lines…like his mentor, Galette often will struggle/disappear in big games…and like his mentor, will live off of games like this, padding stats for off-season contractual negotiations with a misguided GM…

  8. I don’t hate the saints or anything but watching them I cant help but feel like they will go nowhere this year.

    The Seahawks, niners, and packers with a healthy a-rod all seem like better teams to me

  9. Considering how great I kept hearing about the Panther defense I expected more. Maybe a whelp like Mike Mitchell should keep his mouth shut

  10. IMO there is only one QB that is clearly better than Brees and everyone else- Aaron Rodgers. People who think otherwise are a bit crazy.

    After him it is splitting hairs deciding the order of P. Manning, Brees, Brady. I’d say Brady is the best of those 3 at not forcing passes and taking what he is given and has the best intensity (even if he comes off as a spazzy teenager at times) while Brees is the best pure and most accurate passer of the three and Manning is the best at making adjustments with the quickest release and best at dealing with a pass rush.

  11. Let me be the first to say Kudos to the Panthers, who have a good team. Just happy to see my Saints bounce back after the battle in Seattle.

    If we could have the Seahawks at home, I would give us an even chance but on the road, well I just have serious doubts.

    But for now at least, we can rest for about a week, but all the games left are huge and the Rams have a good defense too.

    Great year in the NFL though.

  12. Drew hit 50,000 yards in less games than Manning…that’s crazy!! And that’s some very good company that Brees will be forever mentioned next to….

  13. Congrats to Bree’s and the Saints for playing a better game than the Cats. Someone needed to check Bree’s helmet last night for that rearview camera he was using to get rid of the ball just in time. Riverboat Ron went back to Tugboat Ron and his old conservative and predictable ways. Shula showed very little imagination in the calling of plays. It was like watching the Panthers during the first few games of the season. The secondary kept Graham fairly well covered for most of the first half but forgot that Colston can catch the ball also. I hope the game in Charlotte proves to be more competitive.

  14. Funny how one game can make the professional sports writers sing a different tune…Carolina was overrated by most everyone who covers the game. It was fun to watch the smirk slowly disappear off of Cam Newton’s face!

  15. Yep, Hawks kicked butt on Saints, still doesn’t change the fact that the all mighty trash talking Panthers got pounced upon by the Saints. OK you get another chance in two weeks – but remember the Saints will also study the film to come back even better too.

  16. Who’s better than Brees? It doesn’t get much better. He’s much more exciting to watch than Tom “Dink and Dunk” Brady and Peyton “Pick Play” Manning. He actually drives the ball down the field.

  17. Aaron Rodgers holds onto the ball too long and always looks to go deep, which cause him to take a lot of sacks and he can be fooled easier than Brees brady and manning. While yes he does make some pretty insane throws I wouldn’t label him as clear cut better than Bree’s manning and brady. Manning Brady and Brees all are much better pre snap and being coaches on the field than Rodgers as well.

  18. @uncletuna

    Your bias against the Saints aside, have you been absent the past few years in the NFL? Mickey Loomis may be a lot of things, but ‘misguided’ and ‘inept’ are not two of them. Arguably, he’s one of the best GM’s in the league. Yeah, he overpaid Will Smith, but name a single GM who HASN’T missed on one or two contracts over the years. I can wait for as long as you need.

    The Saints are a great team, and much of the credit does lie on Payton and Brees, however you’re ignorant to believe that Loomis hasn’t had a big hand in that.

  19. @uncletuna ….do some research… Galette was signed to a 3 year deal last off season… He is making roughly $2 mil a year…..

    That sounds like an excellent GM, not an inept one.

  20. mrlaloosh says:
    Dec 8, 2013 11:35 PM
    Pound Dat- Panthers. Pretenders, as usual. Where are the fanboys? What happened?
    Some of us are here. I’m man enough to admit when my team gets whipped. It happens to every team other than the ’72 Dolphins. We got what you guys got last week.

    And no, I don’t agree that this proves the Panthers are overrated. There were just matchip problems that the Saints were able to expose because we couldn’t get a pass rush. I’m sure the results will be different on 12/22. And I’m sure we will be able to handle the Jets this week and the Falcons the last week and finish 12/4. We will be fine.

    Whoever ends up as the wild card teams from among Carolina, Frisco or Arizona, I’m willing to bet big money that both of the wild card teams will trounce the NFC North & East division winners.

  21. Does this mean that people need to still watch out for the Panthers?

    It’s funny how they beat San Fran and New England and they’re the darlings of the sleepers but now the Saints trounce them and everyone is talking about how the saints can only win in the dome.

    So be it. We have a lot of football left to play and it’s very possible the saints will play Carolina two more times m

  22. Don’t care where the Saints play the Panthers, they will beat them silly.

    That Carolina secondary is head-shakingly awful.

  23. Mike Mitchell got punked by Drew Brees. Remember the old says “better to be silent and though of as an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.
    Mitchell is not only a chirping idiot but obviously a really bad defensive safety. 4 Drew Brees touchdown passes is all that was needed to prove Mitchell to be a loud mouthed, untalented idiot.

  24. “Wait until we play you in Charlotte.”

    Psh…spare me. There’s NOTHING intimidating about playing there.

  25. …and how big of a clown is Ron Rivera? He tried to get Morestead ejected for that facemask penalty.

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