Drew Brees on Record-Setting Performance Against Vikings Last Week: “It should have been maybe 36-of-40, 90 percent.”December 22, 2011 – 11:10 am by Michael Bean
What an exciting NFL Playoffs it’s going to be this year, with the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and the San Francisco 49ers all looking like they have what it takes to make it to the Super Bowl, and the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions and whoever wins the NFC East all being plenty capable of getting hot and winning three games to punch their ticket to Indianapolis. Some fans and pundits are beginning to wonder if the Saints might be the team to beat given how masterfully Drew Brees is playing the quarterback position for New Orleans. After last Sunday’s 400-plus yard, five touchdown performance against the Vikings, Brees has 4,780 yards . I think it’s safe to say that Dan Marino’s single-season record of 5,084 yards is going down. The only question is whether Brees will be able to get there next Monday night in New Orleans’ home tilt with the rival Falcons, or if it will have to wait until Week 17 when New Orleans hosts the Panthers.
Brees joined WWL in New Orleans to talk about last Sunday’s blowout win over the Vikings, the few lone errors he made in the Saints’ sixth consecutive win, how he felt like he could have been even better despite being the first quarterback in nearly 50 years to complete 80 percent of his passes with 400-plus yards and five touchdowns, next Monday night’s matchup against the surging Atlanta Falcons, the importance of securing the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and how the rivalry with Atlanta has grown in magnitude in recent years.
If he noticed just how much of a massive disparity there was between the Saints and Vikings’ offenses during last Sunday’s blowout win:
“No, I didn’t really pay attention to their stats other than knowing that our defense was doing a great job. Unfortunately early in that game, we had given the Vikings really good field position on that early fumble, and then the snap. So we had basically given them six points, but other than that, our defense played phenomenal. Offensively, I think we just needed to find our rhythm after those first two series, and I believe we scored on it might have six consecutive possessions — all touchdowns — three in the second quarter and three in the third quarter and into the fourth. We weren’t thinking about it, we were just operating. It was just one play after another, and then before you know it, you’ve scored 42 and you’re into the fourth.”
What accounted for the botched snap fumble:
“I take the blame for that, because within our offense there’s times when we’re changing plays or doing stuff at the line of scrimmage, and it was a little loud at that moment. I was trying to communicate to the line as to the protection, and to the receivers as to what the routes were going to be. And I think there were just some numbers that ran together, and it kind of gets mixed up sometimes in the cadence that we use. So that’s where the miscommunication came into play. You know, there’s a mechanics, a method to anytime we go into a no-huddle situation, and that one was a little bit different because I called the play, and then I wanted to change the play that I had called initially. So I take full responsibility for that. Obviously that can’t happen.”
On being the first quarterback to throw for over 400 yards, complete 80 percent of his passes and throw five touchdowns in a single game since the 1960s:
“I walk away from that game, and as efficient as it felt and looked like and everything, I think about the one down the middle to Meachem that I missed him. Granted we scored two plays later to Lance, but there were one or two others that I felt should have been completed, or a couple of throws that could have been a little better or the timing could have been better, and so I look at and go 32-of-40, it should have been maybe 36-of-40, 90 percent. Those days are rare, but then again, they are so rare that you say ‘gosh, it could have been even better.'”
On both the Saints, and their next opponent, the Falcons, being among the league leaders in time of possession:
“Yeah, that’s always important. And here’s the thing: a good running game and converting third downs is the key to time of possession. Because obviously when you keep the ball on the ground, the clock runs; when you convert third downs, the clock runs and you maintain possession and keep your defense off the field. And obviously a good defense helps that as well. Because an opportunistic defense that can get you the ball back quickly, or get you back on the field quickly like ours do and gives you more opportunities. So I think all those things work hand-in-hand, and they compliment one another.”
On the importance of finishing as one of the top two seeds in the conference and securing a first round playoff bye:
“Well it’s nice to get that first round bye, because basically what it’s done is it’s given you a first round victory in essence. It just says you don’t have to play in the first round, in essence you’ve won the first round. And you get an extra week of rest in addition to that. Then you get to host a playoff game that if you win, you’re automatically in the NFC Championship Game. So you basically have to just win on game to be in the NFC Championship Game and have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. So it’s definitely a huge difference than potentially having to host a Wild Card, then having to go on the road to play the Divisional Game, and then probably having to go on the road to play in the NFC Championship. So there’s a big benefit of getting that first round bye.”
On the heightened rivalry brewing between the Atlanta Falcons and the Saints:
“Yeah we always have that expectation with the Falcons. We know they’re a very talented team, they’re very well coached, and I think for some reason, when you have two really good, competitive teams come together, you know there’s going to be some back and forth and it’s going to go down to the wire, no matter if you’re playing at home or on the road. I believe the last four games have been decided by three points or less, or basically all by three points, two of those in overtime. So we do know the type of opponent we’re going up against. Obviously we both have a lot to play for and this is what you dream about — these opportunities on Monday night at the end of the season when you’ve got a lot on the line.”