Drew Brees’ veteran savvy and enduring skill as a passer were enough for the Saints to overcome the loss of two top receivers in the past few days.
Brees completed 80.6% of his passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and the 41-year-old rushed for a 1-yard score to lead New Orleans to a 27-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The vintage performance by the NFL’s all-time leading passer came after the Saints had to adjust their game plan because of Michael Thomas’ hamstring injury on Wednesday and Emmanuel Sanders’ positive COVID-19 test following Thursday’s practice.
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“Each week, it’s finding a different way to win,” Brees said. “Each week, it’s finding different guys that are having to step up and contribute in ways that maybe they haven’t in the past.
“So I can’t say enough about guys’ resolve and resilience to be able to do that,” Brees added.
The Panthers had driven across midfield in the final minutes when defensive end Marcus Davenport’s sack of Teddy Bridgewater led Carolina coach Matt Rhule to send out kicker Joey Slye to try a 65-yard field goal on fourth-and-19. The kick fell just short of the crossbar and the Saints (4-2) ran out the final 1:55, sending the Panthers (3-4) to their second straight loss.
“That sack was a fatal blow,” Rhule said. “That is the only thing that couldn’t have happened there. … Teddy can’t take that sack. The offensive line can’t allow that sack. It just can’t happen.”
Brees completed 29 of 36 passes to eight targets, including eight completions for 75 yards to undrafted rookie Marquez Calloway. Brees’ decision-making and accuracy also helped New Orleans convert 12 of 14 third downs.
After the Saints’ two third-down failures, Wil Lutz came through with field goals of 41…
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