By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS)—It looked like once he was out of his climate-controlled barn that’s the Superdome future Hall of Famer Drew Brees wasn’t capable of doing anything.
That’s what it looked like Saturday night in the wildcard round of the NFC playoffs.
Brees couldn’t do anything right.
But there is a reason why Brees is one of the best in the game and someone the Eagles’ Nick Foles may one day aspire to be.
Because Brees and the Saints dispelled the weather, noise and even swirling white towel myths by ending the Eagles season, 26-24, to win their first road playoff game in franchise history.
The Saints’ defense put the clamps on LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s top rusher who was held to 77 yards, and DeSean Jackson didn’t catch a pass until the final three minutes of the third quarter. But the Eagles made it interesting, when Foles tossed a three-yard dart to Zach Ertz for a 24-23 Eagles’ lead, with 4:54 left.
Then the Eagles defense had to deal with Brees. He carved up the Eagles defense placing the Saints in perfect position, setting up Shayne Graham’s game-winning 32-yard field goal, his fourth, on the final play of the game.
Throughout the first half, Brees wasn’t Brees. He misfired all over the place. On the Saints’ opening possession, Brees had speedster Darren Sproles streaking down the right sideline, with Eagles’ linebacker Connor Barwin, a few yards back, in dogged pursuit.
But Brees terribly underthrew him. It should have been a touchdown.
On the Saints’ third possession, Brees tossed the first of two first-half interceptions when he overthrew Jimmy Graham and the ball landed in the waiting arms of Bradley Fletcher.
It was Brees who contributed to the Eagles’ first score when he threw his second interception right to Eagles’ linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who returned it 23 yards to the Saints’ 44.
From there, Foles strung a few completions together to Riley Cooper and Ertz, moving the Eagles to the New Orleans’ 10. With 1:48 left in the half, using what seemed like an eternity to throw, Foles found Cooper in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard score and a 7-3 Eagles’ lead.
Graham’s 46-yard field goal pulled the Saints to within 7-6 on the last play of the half.
It was two quarters Brees would rather forget. He seemed jittery in the pocket, unsure of himself and uncharacteristically inaccurate. He was 10 for 18 for 98 yards, sacked twice, threw two picks and a hideous quarterback rating of 31.5. He went 10 of 12 for 152 yards in the second half—including a 24-yard TD strike to Lance Moore in the third quarter.
The Eagles defense, meanwhile, did an excellent job covering Jimmy Graham, the Saints’ dangerous tight end. Brees looked in Graham’s direction four times and hit him three times in the first half for 44 yards. But the Eagles for the most part appeared to contain Graham from doing anything harmful in the first half.
Graham didn’t catch a pass the second half. But Mark Ingram, considered a first-round bust, zipped through the Eagles for 97 yards on a season-high 18 carries.