A Brady, Vikings Combo Ends Brees’ Run

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The Minnesota Vikings were disqualified from a postseason invitation by – you guessed it – the New Orleans Saints on Christmas day. Alvin Kamara personally browbeat Minnesota with an NFL record-tying six rushing touchdowns en route to a 52-33 shellacking of the Vikings. In that contest, Brees was pedestrian while crossing the 300-yard plateau but tossing two interceptions. The Saints defense wasn’t very good either. Minnesota’s defense was just significantly worse. 

New Orleans would ascertain the NFC’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs and mostly manhandle the anemic Chicago Bears on Wildcard Weekend. Unlike the Christmas game, Brees was quite effective versus a usually-sturdy Chicago defense. He dimed two touchdowns on his way to 265 passing yards. 

It would be the last win of Drew Brees’ lengthy 20-year career.

FOX’s Jay Glazer broke the news of Brees’ retirement on Sunday before kickoff. 

Unless Glazer was hornswoggled, that’s a wrap for Brees’ marvelous run. He exits the business as the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader for the regular season, second in touchdown passes, and an owner of one Super Bowl ring. Also worth noting — if Brady returns for at least 5 or so games in 2021, he will take the mantel of the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader. 

In the end, Tom Brady and the Minnesota Vikings disallowed Brees from earning a second Super Bowl championship during the latter portion of his illustrious career. 

2019, Vikings in OT

The Vikings stunned the Saints in the 2017 Divisional Round playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium when Stefon Diggs punctuated the event with a walk-off touchdown. That moment is almost a Gettysburg-type event in Vikings lore. 

The following season, the Saints were jobbed by referees inside the Superdome when the Los Angeles Rams committed larceny with an obvious pass-interference non-call. Both Saints teams – the 2017 and 2018 editions – were formidable and capable of winning championships. No luck.

In 2019, the Vikings strutted down to the Big Easy with a 7-point underdog label. It didn’t matter. Danielle Hunter, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, and Kirk Cousins delivered masterpiece playmaking to secure another upending of the Saints in a lose-or-go-home playoff game. If the 2017 playoff game was Gettysburg for the Vikings, 2019 was Appomattox

Brees would contemplate retirement in the months thereafter and strangely dip his feet in the hot water of the anthem-kneeling topic. 

Ultimately, he chose to return to the NFL for his 20th season. The campaign ended similarly to the previous three.

Tom Terrific Finishes the Job

You saw it on your smartphones all week – and for good reason. Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees was the billing for the Divisional Round tryst between Tampa Bay and New Orleans. That’s right, 85 combined years of age on the field at the quarterback position. This was not the first meeting involving Brady and Brees, but it was the very first one in the playoffs. 

Brees was borderline comical. He completed 19 of 34 passes for 139 yards, one touchdown, and three picks. The statline earned him a 38.1 passer rating and 31.7 QBR. Via passer rating, it was the fifth-worst performance by a starting quarterback in a playoff game during the last ten years. In this metric, Brees tucked his name in the books with players like Connor Cook, T.J. Yates, and Brian Hoyer.

His opponent, Brady, was much better. The 43-year-old tossed two touchdowns to no interceptions and channeled Patriots-like energy throughout the second half of the contest. As a result, Brady and the Buccaneers will advance to the NFC Championship at Lambeau Field.

One More Favor Needed Next Week

And this where Vikings loyalists morph into Tom Brady fanatics. The Buccaneers will meet the red-hot Green Bay Packers in the first home NFC Championship that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has ever played as a starter. Indeed, the Packers have lost three straight (yes, three) NFC Championships matchups – all on the road. In 2014, it was Seattle that shocked Green Bay with late-game heroism. After that, the Packers were flogged by the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome by a score of 44-21. Three years later, Rodgers and friends traveled to California only to be abused by the San Francisco 49ers. It has quietly been a toxic stretch of futility for the Packers in conference title games. 

The Buccaneers will not roll over either. But Green Bay has the satisfaction of homefield advantage, which means a handful of fans and some frigid weather. Brady is no stranger to cold temperatures spending 21 seasons in the northeast United States with the Patriots. 

With Brees [presumably] off to the announcing booth in 2021, the Vikings hope Brady can cross another legend off the list on Championship Weekend. Minnesota handed Green Bay its only home loss of 2020 last October, so conventional logic suggests the task should not be impossible for Brady and the Buccaneers.

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