The second-seeded New Orleans Saints will host the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round final next weekend on Sunday afternoon.
“I guess it was inevitable,” said Brees, who said he knew the Buccaneers would be a big rival once Brady decided to migrate to the NFC South in the final offseason. “Look, the minute he signed with the Bucs and walked into the division, you felt like it was going to be a team to face. It was going to be a team that had playoff aspirations and beyond, just like us. ”
Brees, who turns 42 on Friday and is expected to consider retiring after this season, said: “I don’t take it for granted. I very much appreciate this opportunity. ”
The Saints, who became the first team to sweep the NFC South Division in the regular season, beat Brady and the Bucs in their first two clashes – a 34-23 win over New Orleans in Week 1 and a superb, 38-3 rout in Tampa in Week 9.
Brees and Brady, 43, became the first pair of quarterbacks to face each other at 40 and over in an NFL game in those first two meetings. Now they will be the first to do so in a playoff game.
Their rivalry has actually lasted four decades now, dating back to when Brady’s Michigan Wolverines defeated Brees’ Purdue Boilermakers in 1999.
Brees has actually won five of their seven career NFL games – and Brees ranks No.1 in league history in terms of footage. However, Brady ranks # 1 in career touchdown passes and has the ultimate mic drop when it comes to Super Bowl rings (six-on-one).
Brady and the Buccaneers have been on a hot streak recently, scoring five straight wins, including the 31-23 wild card victory on Saturday night to the Washington football team.
But the Brees and Saints offense is hopeful they’re close to peaking in the playoffs, after recovering receivers Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris from the injured reserve and running back Alvin Kamara from the reserve list. / COVID-19 in time for Sunday’s 21-9 win over visiting Chicago Bears.
Thomas caught five passes for 73 yards and his first touchdown of the season after being limited to just seven regular-season games with a nagging ankle injury. Brees and Thomas had only played a total of 10 quarterbacks together in the regular season, thanks to the fact that Brees had missed four games of the week 11-14 with a punctured lung and 11 broken ribs.
” It was great [to get Thomas back]. It was great to bring him into the end zone too. Hopefully we’ve broken the seal and there’s a lot more where that came from, ”said Brees, who threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday but recognized the offense could improve after going. scored just seven points in the first 40 minutes.
“Look, we’ve got some work to do,” Brees said. “I think it’s still the first time that everyone is together again. Hope we [wideout] Tre’Quan Smith is also back this week. There is so much timing and rhythm that goes into the passing game and so many little nuances of things like that. ”
Kamara ran for 99 yards and a TD despite not being allowed to train with the team all week. But he said he felt like he “didn’t really miss a beat” after barely experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and following the Saints’ practices via live video with trainers microphone.
Kamara said he and Brees texted and talked throughout the week about the nuances of the game plan.
“I had a day off in the first round. I had a week off, ”joked Kamara, who was unable to play in week 17 after testing positive for coronavirus last week. “So it helps, obviously, just to have that downtime. You have no choice but to sit down and recover and recover your body a little. So I felt good there today.
“With me, it didn’t really affect me too much. Just the taste and smell rejected. No real side effects, no real symptoms. I felt good there today. My wind was not really affected. Thank God for the health. It was just something I had to face. ”