If Sunday’s 30-20 home NFC divisional playoff loss to rival Tom Brady and Buccaneers was Drew Brees’ final recreation because the Saints’ quarterback, then he would end his Corridor of Fame, Tremendous Bowl-winning profession together with his worst playoff efficiency.
Brees (19-of-34 passing, 134 yards, one TD, three INTs, 3.9 yards per try, 74.9 passer score) hit a single-game low in postseason effectivity, and all three of his turnovers had been pricey. The Saints’ finest cross within the recreation was off a first-half trick play, when backup and long-shot successor Jameis Winston delivered a 56-yard touchdown.
It has been assumed that Brees, who turned 42 on Friday, would retire after the 2020 NFL common season and 2021 NFL playoffs even when New Orleans fell in need of attending to Tremendous Bowl 55, which it did. But when anybody can encourage him to vary his thoughts and return, then it will be Brady.
Brady’s staff gained, nevertheless it’s not as if Brady totally outplayed Brees. Brady (18-of-33 passing, 199 yards, three whole TDs, 5.9 yards per try, 92.2 passer score) did not have a lot success connecting on downfield photographs in opposition to the Saints’ protection and was lucky that he additionally did not have a multiple-interception recreation, barely avoiding main catastrophe on just a few of his throws.
When Brees’ Saints dominated Brady’s Buccaneers twice within the common season en path to taking the NFC South, Brady was the one making the massive errors, beginning with an interception returned for a landing in Week 1 and ending with three extra interceptions at residence in Week 9. A bit of greater than a yr in the past, when Brady was 42 and enjoying in New England, he skilled a really un-Brady-like nightmare in a foul residence wild-card loss to the Titans, together with his closing Patriots playoff cross turning into a pick-six.
On the time, there have been questions, tied to his arm power and decision-making, whether or not age had caught as much as Brady. As a substitute of retiring, Brady broke up with the Patriots, hit free company and located the proper new residence in Tampa, as confirmed by him advancing to a 14th convention championship recreation.
Brady refused to let that efficiency in Foxborough be his swan music. He turned again Father Time (once more) to return again enjoying like his 30-year-old self. Will Brees do the identical after Sunday, not desirous to exit in that method?
For a way a lot he has meant to the Saints and metropolis of New Orleans, it must be arduous to consider “Who Dat nation” not with the ability to give him a full goodbye, with lower than a full home within the Superdome. It additionally was the top of a attempting season past the constraints of COVID-19 protocols, as Brees missed 4 video games with battered ribs a yr after he missed 5 video games with a thumb harm.
The Saints bought a superb glimpse into their seemingly close to future after they went 3-1 with Taysom Hill throwing and working in Brees’ newest absence. Additionally they made a contingency plan by signing Winston, the Buccaneers’ starter earlier than Brady, late in free company. Out of the blue, one cross would possibly give him an opportunity to combat for the beginning job.
Identical to coach Sean Payton and the remainder of the Saints’ group have wrapped their heads round enjoying with out Brees completely, it has little question crossed his thoughts many occasions, too. Little doubt, he imagined an ending significantly better than this.
Like all extremely aggressive growing old athletes dealing with the crossroads of retirement and chasing one final championship, the thoughts is one a part of the choice, however the true battle comes right down to physique vs. coronary heart.
Everybody is perhaps fascinated about how John Elway and Peyton Manning rode off into the sundown as Tremendous Bowl winners for the Broncos. However that has been extra the exception than the rule, seeing the way it ended for Dan Marino and lots of different all-time nice quarterbacks. With a fourth straight postseason of disappointment after being a division-winning NFC powerhouse, that expectation could not be cheap for Brees.
Brady has blown everybody away together with his age-defying play, and Brees has been proper there with him. Aaron Rodgers — Brady’s NFC championship recreation counterpart and sure NFL MVP at age 37 — is headed down the identical path of redefining the passing prime for an elite QB.
If Brees has any inkling that he can return more healthy and play at a excessive stage subsequent season, then what Brady has accomplished can function a powerful suggestion to Brees that he ought to rethink retirement, assuming he was leaning that method.
The distinction between Brady’s state of affairs final yr and Brees’ this yr is that Brees would not want to fret a couple of divorce from the Saints. If he needs to return again, then they’d be completely behind him coming again and would keep dedicated to serving to win huge once more.
There’s nothing “Massive Simple” about Brees’ resolution. Simply perhaps, seeing Brady and considering that he, too, can rebound like that would possibly ease him towards returning.