This just in: Drew Brees is very good.
His team isn’t too shabby either.
In a season filled with stellar performances, Brees perhaps topped them all Sunday, leading New Orleans to a convincing 42-20 blowout in Minnesota by throwing for five touchdowns and 412 yards.
Brees completed a remarkable 32-of-40 passes and became the 13th player in NFL history to reach 40,000 career passing yards. He set a league mark with his 11th 300-plus yard passing game of the season and is now third all-time with seven career 400-plus performances.
It was the sixth five-touchdown game of Brees’ career, tying him with Peyton Manning and Dan Marino for the most ever.
He is closing in on Marino’s single-season passing record and could overcome it with a big game against Atlanta next week.
Those poor San Diego Chargers. They were a pick away from landing Peyton Manning, had to settle for Ryan Leaf and, later, let Brees escape to New Orleans as a free agent.
New Orleans isn’t only about Brees, head coach Sean Payton is one of the best, but Brees is very much in the hunt for league MVP honours.
For weeks it was thought that Aaron Rodgers had the MVP all but sewn up, yet, since Week 9, Brees has a better completion percentage, QB rating and has thrown for more yards per game and has 18 touchdowns against a single interception compared to Rodgers’ 20 touchdowns and three interceptions. Meanwhile, New Orleans has not lost since Week 9. After Sunday’s shocker in Kansas City, Rodgers and the Packers can’t say the same.
As for this game, Minnesota hung around early thanks to a pair of Saints fumbles leading to field goals, but Brees and his mates turned it on in the third, outscoring the Vikings 14-0 in the quarter to blow the game wide open.
The Saints clinched a playoff berth and put pressure on San Francisco to beat Pittsburgh on Monday to retain second spot in the NFC.
Brees was lethal on third downs, completing all but one of his passes and throwing for two touchdowns.
Lance Moore hauled in a pair of touchdown catches, Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham and John Gilmore added a touchdown catch of their own as Brees hit nine different receivers, keeping the Vikings, like every other NFL team, off balance.
Adrian Peterson returned after a three-game injury absence but only carried the ball 10 times for 60 yards.
Christian Ponder went 13-for-27 for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
New Orleans, like Green Bay, is a Super Bowl contender, despite some holes on defence.
Brees directs the NFL’s best passing attack, but only two teams allow more yards in the air.
But the team has now reeled off six wins in a row and seven-of-eight and has not allowed more than 24 points in any of those wins and no more than 17 over the past three weeks.
With the playoffs looming, the Saints will get a big test next week against the high-flying Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons can’t win the division, but can knock the Saints off kilter a bit with a strong performance.
Brees is due for a new contract following the season and he’s making quite a case that he should be paid as much as any quarterback.
Right now, there’s just no stopping Brees or the Saints.
New Orleans was without running back Mark Ingram for the second straight week due to turf toe and linebacker Jonathan Casillas sat out with a knee injury … St. Louis was again without quarterback Sam Bradford and word is his season might be over. Bradford, the No. 1 pick of the 2010 draft, has had a poor second season after an excellent rookie campaign. His ankle should keep him out until next season, but, apparently, the Rams still consider him their quarterback of the future … New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck was active and played against the Washington Redskins, despite a sore toe which limited him in practice … Minnesota’s Jared Allen is a sack ahead of Michael Strahan at the same point of the season during Strahan’s record-setting 22.5 sack season … Miami had quarterback Matt Moore in the lineup, despite a neck injury, but left tackle Jake Long missed a game for the first time in his career due to a back injury. Buffalo was without tight end Scott Chandler who has an ankle problem.