by Michael Lombardi
December 07, 02009
I’ve been very fortunate this year to see two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks play live and in person. Seeing Peyton Manning move the ball up and down the field on the Rams was a highlight for me, and Sunday, watching Drew Brees lead the Saints to their 12th win in a row, was sensational. Brees put the Saints on his back, or, more correctly, on his right arm, throwing for 419 yards and making every clutch throw you could possibly make. His leadership on the field was impressive, but his pinpoint accuracy with the football is rarely seen — unless you happen to be watching a Colts game. How good would a Saints-Colts Super Bowl be, watching both these men lead their teams?
After the game, I got to spend a few minutes with Brees and asked him the same question I asked Manning: How do you throw the ball to the covered receiver? Brees was matter-of-fact with his answer. “There’s always a spot I can put the ball that the receiver can catch it and the defender won’t,” he said. And he’s right. Only he and maybe Manning can place the ball with smart-bomb accuracy. Trust me, you don’t want to challenge either man to a game of darts.
The Saints went outdoors, in sub-40-degree weather on a sloppy field that favored both offenses, and played their hearts out. It was not a pretty effort, but it was a testament to their will to win, their spirit and their team unity. They knew beforehand that the Redskins would play them in a physical style. All they had to do was watch the ‘Skins the last three weeks on tape and know they had not quit. Near the end of the game, things looked bleak when ‘Skins kicker Shaun Suisham lined up to kick a 23-yard field goal that would have given them a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to play. But in the year of the Saints, Suisham missed, giving them a renewed hope of sending the game into overtime with a tying touchdown. This situation is one the Saints have practiced many times and performed almost too quickly, tying the score and eventually sending it to OT.
In overtime, the Saints forced another turnover and then marched the ball down the field to finish off the remarkable come-from-behind win. We’ve seen the Saints win games this year playing from behind, playing from in front and playing toe to toe. They can win a game in any style, and to beat them, teams better have the ball last. These kinds of wins let everyone in the locker room know that as long as they keep fighting, as long as they keep playing hard, they can find ways to win. Brees is a great player and he drives this team, but this is a true team with the will to keep on winning.
MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS…
…The Patriots must fix their red-zone troubles on both sides on the ball. This started in Week 1 against the Bills and continues today. Their inability to win on the road is due, in large part, to their red zone problems.
…What more can Tony Romo do to help his team win in December? I mean really, he played as well as he can play, but when your team allows 165 in return yards, it’s difficult. Add the return yards to the stats and the game is not as unbalanced.
…The running back the Seattle Seahawks could use is playing for the Eagles. Former Seahawk Leonard Weaver had only five carries but was a load for the Falcons to tackle. His power and explosive nature give the Eagles another dimension to their offense — something the Seahawks could really use.
…I know the ‘Skins are 3-9, but they’ve played hard the last three weeks and are actually a better team without running back Clinton Portis. I strongly doubt Portis will return this year, or next year for that matter. The ‘Skins have discovered some new, talented skill players in wide receiver Devin Thomas and tight end Fred Davis, who make their offense more effective.
…The ‘Skins just might beat the Giants and Cowboys in the next few weeks, and that’s why I like the Eagles to win the NFC East. The ‘Skins will decide the division winner.
…I know I’m jumping ahead, but how can any NFC team beat the Vikings and Saints on the road in consecutive weeks? That’s what it will take for a team other than the Saints or Vikings to reach the Super Bowl.
…The Jets had better hope the Colts and Bengals clinch and have nothing left to play for because they might help their playoff chances. The Jets’ schedule is very favorable, with the Bucs this week, then the beat-up Falcons, before they travel to Indy and end the year at home against the Bengals. Those remaining two games might be meaningless to the Colts and Bengals but very meaningful to the Jets.
…Can we get the running backs to stop throwing the ball in the red zone? Last week, Ricky Williams hurt his team with his interception, and this week Chris Brown of the Texans did the same thing.
…The Chiefs might not be very good on defense, but Tamba Hali is a great player. He has only 6½ sacks this year but faces constant double-teams and chips on every pass play. Imagine how good he could be if the Chiefs hadn’t traded Jared Allen and had both players racing off the edge.
…Baltimore must be able to generate pressure on Aaron Rodgers tonight and gain extra possessions. They must win this game with their ability to play well in the red zone and keep pace with the Packers.
…I hated seeing the Vikings’ E.J. Henderson injury and wish him the best as he recovers. He was playing great.
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