Despite Drew Brees' Demands, The Record-Setting Return Of The Domefield Advantage Was A Night That Was His And His Alone
To his credit, he tried. He really did try. After manipulating the defense, in a way that was as vintage as it was mechanical, into leaving Tre'Quan Smith open for what was a casual and uncontested stroll atop yet another chapter of the history books, the forever humble and systematically selfless Drew Brees did the absolute most in trying to incorporate everyone else into a night that was realistically never meant to belong to anyone but him.
Whether it was the youthful exuberance of him jumping for joy amongst his teammates, or acknowledging a teary-eyed crowd that's long appreciated him for a whole hell of a lot more than any of his record-setting numbers, or sharing a warm embrace with the head coach with which he already shares a brain, or - most notably - taking the time to turn it into a teaching moment for his kids before planting one on his wife, the newly crowned king of professional passing was as diligent as ever in making his milestone an "us" thing for the entirety of the Who Dat Nation...
Still, the night was that of Drew Brees, and Drew Brees alone, as he clinically dissected the Washington Redskins with a performance that was eerily reminiscent of so, so many that have come before it. 26-29. 363 yards. 3 touchdowns. The most statistically accurate game throughout the eventual Hall of Fame career of the most historically accurate quarterback of all time. A game script that allowed for a 40-spot come the halfway point of the 3rd quarter and ingenuously incorporated more secondary characters on the fly than a Curb Your Enthusiasm improvisation. An effort so unstoppable that it seemingly served as a steroid to a banged up defense that suddenly looked dominant. In a way that was both fitting and familiar, the outcome of last night's contest felt like it was in doubt for all of about 5 minutes, as the SuperDome was the type of abuzz that could only come as a result of rostering someone as unquenchably competitive and cutthroat as Drew Brees.
Now, to be fair, there are plenty of other storylines.
Other than some suspect ball security, Mark Ingram chomped right back at that bit in showing exactly the type of energy, versatility, and power he brings to a Saints' offense that - despite what its point totals might suggest - was missing a little something without him.
Tre'Quan Smith and Cameron Meredith finally busted out and took a huge weight off the overused shoulders of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara in letting them serve spectator to history. If they keep it up, a downright dangerous Saints' offense will be unspeakably hard to stop.
The secondary not only absorbed the blow of losing Marshon Lattimore to concussion protocol, but appeared to treat it as a challenge that the likes of P.J. Williams and Justin Hardee readily accepted. If that confidence in their execution is here to stay then the first three weeks of the season will be a distant memory in no time.
The pass rush, led by Cam Jordan and followed by Marcus Davenport, had Alex Smith seeing 6'7 ghosts all night. The former is all but a formality at this point, but the latter is a sign that it's only a matter of time before the bang matches the buck in regards to the first round athletic freak whose coming out party included some fireworks.
All in all, the whole team just looked poised to take advantage of the Domefield advantage from the outset, and the combination of that mood and the knockout punch of a momentum swing that typically follows is something that has been somewhat lacking in recent years. If last night was any indication then the Saints are all the way back to being a complimentary football team that simply decimates the will of their competition at home. That will is obviously easier to decimate when it's that of a team that's taking stupid, untimely penalties and struggles to get anything going downfield, but you still couldn't ask for the Saints to be in a better head space than they are heading into a two week break on a 4-game win streak with each victory proving more decisive than the next.
That's especially true considering their quarterback appears to be in common form as the record-setting and history-defining force behind an absolute juggernaut at 39 years young. Drew Brees has literally thrown himself into the conversation as the GOAT, and - considering the youth and talent that's finally been built around him - I don't see anything short of another championship bringing a stop to that anytime soon. Last night was his, but it won't be the last last night that was his, as his right arm clearly still holds quite a few reminders of how under appreciated he is outside of a city that lives vicariously through his graceful greatness.