Brees: Saints defense is playing extremely well

Zach Strief
December 18, 2018 - 8:17 am
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The New Orleans Saints squeaked by the Carolina Panthers 12-9 Monday night.  “That’s an odd combination right there,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees admitted.

While Brees and the Saints offense to struggled to string together scoring the drives, the defense stymied Cam Newton and the Panthers.  Carolina’s lone touchdown came on a 4th down in the 1st quarter, courtesy of a trick play that saw running back Christian McCaffrey throw a 50 yard touchdown pass.

Brees had high praise for the defensive effort.  “They’re playing extremely well.  Like you said, [they’re playing well] when it counts.” Brees went on to point out how effective the defense was after halftime.  “In the second half, you come out; and you’ve made your just adjustments and just locking it down and really giving us a chance offensively to hit our stride and put together some drives and go down and hopefully win the game.”

The Saints offense did hit their stride in the second half.  Late in the 3rd quarter, Drew Brees and company put together an 11 play, 66 yard drive to score their only touchdown of the game (the two point conversion would be returned by the Panthers for two points, however). 

The next time the Saints got the ball, they executed a 14 play drive that unfortunately ended after Tommylee Lewis fumbled through the endzone at the Carolina 1 yard line.  Despite not resulting in points, the possession drained 7:07 off the clock and flipped field position.  One of the most crucial plays in that drive was a 19 yard reception by Keith Kirkwood on 3rd down.

“I got drilled after it, too,” chuckled Brees.  “That’s one of those where you understand the importance of staying on the field and continuing that drive.  So, you don’t get that, you give them the ball down 3 with a lot of time left.  You sustain that drive and good things happen.”

Brees complimented the individual effort of Kirkwood on the play.  “Keith did a nice job of reading the coverage and bending into an open area.  I had to throw the ball with anticipation, knowing that there was somebody bearing down on me.  He made a great catch, and I think that kind of got everybody ignited again.”

The Saints were sloppy at times, committing nine penalties for 80 yards.  Two came on the final drive, including a holding call that negated a big Alvin Kamara run.

“That’s the kind of stuff that gets you beat,” a frustrated Brees said.  “That’s the kind of stuff that can’t happen, and you got to fix it.  Listen, are penalties a part of the game sometimes?  Yes.  But we had two personal fouls on offense.  That can’t happen.”

The Saints left Carolina with the win, though, and improved to 12-2.  They play their final two games at home, with the Pittsburgh Steelers next up.

Listen to Zach Strief's entire interview with Drew Brees below.

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