The 2nd-seeded New Orleans Saints will host the 5th-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a playoff matchup for the ages subsequent weekend after the Saints slogged through a 21-9 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Brees, who turns 42 on Friday, is extensively anticipated to retire after his 20th NFL season. But it received’t come sooner than some other epic showdown towards the 43-year-outdated Brady, who cranked up the depth in this longtime contention by means of signing with the rival Buccaneers this offseason.
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“The minute that he signed with the Bucs and got here in the department, you felt like that used to be gonna be a staff to cope with,” Brees mentioned of the pending matchup. “So I assume it used to be inevitable.”
Brees ranks first in NFL historical past in passing yards, whilst Brady is first in passing touchdowns and, in fact, Super Bowl rings. In Week 1, they was the first pair of beginning quarterbacks over the age of 40 to stand off. Now they’ll be the first to do it in the postseason.
The Saints (12-Four in the common season) will be taking a look for a 3-recreation sweep once they beat the Buccaneers 34-23 at house in Week 1 and routed them 38-Three in Tampa in Week 9.
The Bucs (11-5) were enjoying their perfect soccer in recent years. But the Saints are as wholesome as they have got been all yr after receivers Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris returned from injured reserve and working again Alvin Kamara returned from the reserve/COVID-19 checklist in time for Sunday’s playoff opener.
Thomas (5 catches for 73 yards and his first TD catch of the season), Kamara (23 carries for 99 yards and a landing) and Harris (seven catches for 83 yards) all made their presences felt in Sunday’s win over Chicago.
But the Saints relied much more closely on their stout protection whilst scoring simply seven issues over the first 40 mins of the recreation.
Pivotal play: Brees had a cast sufficient efficiency, finishing 28 of 39 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns. But his perfect play of the day used to be improvised. Brees needed to break out heavy power after his first two reads weren’t open past due in the 3rd quarter — and he slightly removed an emergency sell off-off go to working again Latavius Murray. Murray additionally did an impressive task of improvising by means of turning to appear for the ball after he delivered a block — then did the remainder of the paintings on his approach into the finish zone whilst giving New Orleans a comfy 14-Three lead.
After the recreation, Brees mentioned Murray wasn’t even in truth in the development on that play.
“There’s 4 different guys — and he’s in truth blocking off,” Brees mentioned. “He used to be there to chop Khalil Mack. So he used to be on the floor, after which he popped up, and I simply roughly dished it over Mack’s head to Latavius. They performed a wholly other protection than what the play used to be designed for. So there used to be no one open.”
Promising pattern: The Saints’ protection has been remarkable for maximum of the previous two months — and stored it up Sunday, even with sack chief Trey Hendrickson sidelined by means of a neck harm. They by no means allowed the Bears to get into this recreation despite the fact that the Saints’ offense stored the door open see you later. Chicago (which scored its handiest landing on the ultimate play of the recreation) completed 1 of 10 on 3rd downs.
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson led the Saints with seven tackles — together with an out of this world fourth-down forestall when he chased quarterback Mitchell Trubisky down from at the back of. And stunningly, Gardner-Johnson controlled to impress some other Bears receiver into punching him and getting ejected for the 2nd time this season (Sunday it used to be Anthony Miller; previous this yr it used to be Javon Wims).
Troubling tendencies: Saints kicker Wil Lutz ignored a 50-yard box purpose broad proper in the first part and has now ignored 4 of his previous seven box purpose makes an attempt over the previous six weeks. Lutz, who additionally ignored an additional level closing week, went to the Pro Bowl closing yr and were one in every of the NFL’s maximum dependable kickers sooner than his fresh skid.
“Wil’s any individual that will jump again,” Saints trainer Sean Payton insisted after the recreation. “I feel he’ll solution the bell.”
Also, backup Saints quarterback Taysom Hill misplaced his 6th fumble of the season when he used to be sacked whilst preserving onto the ball too lengthy in the 2nd quarter. Hill used to be taking a look for a deep go try (which gave the impression to be open). But he didn’t do away with the ball early sufficient. His ball keep watch over used to be additionally one in every of his greatest flaws right through his 4-recreation stint as the Saints’ beginning quarterback when Brees used to be injured previous this season.