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Halo 10-05-2009 02:34 PM

Drew Brees helps beat Jets without his arm
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by Guerry Smith - Even when Drew Brees is off, he is on.

The Saints’ 24-10 dispatching of the New York Jets on Sunday was mostly about the ball-hawking, play-making defense that has transformed them from dangerous to dominant (see YouTube videos below). As rookie New York quarterback Mark Sanchez pointed out repeatedly following his four-turnover performance (three picks, one fumble), it was a 10-10 game if you take away Darren Sharper’s 99-yard interception return and Remi Ayodele’s fumble recovery in the end zone.

Facing one of the best secondaries in the NFL, Brees went without a touchdown pass for the second consecutive week, completing 20 of 32 for 190 yards. His normally pinpoint throws often were slightly behind or too far in front of his intended receivers.

Still, he helped the Saints win by making three plays that had nothing to do with his arm.

At the beginning of a second-quarter possession, he cut down Jets cornerback Dwight Lowery with a kick-out block that would have made an offensive lineman proud, freeing Reggie Bush for a game-long 12-yard run after he started right, then reversed field and went left.

“I’m trying not to make a habit out of that, but they never account for the quarterback to be a perimeter blocker,” Brees said. “If we continue to cut the ball back and I’m there, then I’ll do what I can.”

If he hurts his shoulder the next time he attempts a similar block, he’ll look stupid, but his effort pumped up an already loud Superdome crowd. The Saints eventually turned the ball over on downs at the Jets’ 2 but scored anyway when defensive end Will Smith stripped Sanchez in the end zone.

While the block was pretty, Brees’ next two plays were pivotal.

With New Orleans facing a fourth-and-1 at the New York 43 in the fourth quarter after the Jets had reduced a 17-0 deficit to 17-10, he induced defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to jump offsides with a hard count. Coach Sean Payton said the Saints would have taken a delay-of-game penalty and punted without the penalty.

The hard-count ploy works about one in a hundred times, but Brees pulled it off.

“It’s just something we had talked about and kind of game-planned for a little bit,” he said. “We just knew we might get in a critical situation and potentially be able to get them offsides, and we did.”

On the next play, Pierre Thomas fumbled after catching a dump-off behind the line of scrimmage. The typical scrum followed, and when referees separated the mass of bodies on the ground, Brees had the ball.

“We’re trying to go down and get points to ice the game, and all of a sudden there’s a ball on the ground,” he said. “We have to have it. There’s no excuses. You certainly can’t allow that type of momentum change at that point in the game. Maybe I was in the right place at the right time, but we were right there to get the ball.”

The drive ended with Thomas scoring from one yard out, virtually assuring the victory.

Brees threw for fewer than 200 yards for the second consecutive game after passing for 200 or more 22 times in a row, but he did not care.

The Saints are 4-0 for the first time since 1993. Without Brees’ unusual plays against the Jets, they might not be.

Linkback: The Examiner

QBREES9 10-05-2009 03:02 PM

Re: Drew Brees helps beat Jets without his arm
Brees threw for fewer than 200 yards for the second consecutive game after passing for 200 or more 22 times in a row, but he did not care.


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