NFL-Ahead of Wild Card round, Brees says he’s playing each season like it’s his last

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
FILE PHOTO: Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) on the field in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

January 8, 2021

By Amy Tennery

(Reuters) – After two decades in the NFL, quarterback Drew Brees has gotten good at deflecting unwanted questions.

It’s a valuable skill to have, as a particularly stubborn question swirls around the 13-time Pro Bowler ahead of his New Orleans Saints’ Wild Card showdown against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Has he decided whether this season will be his last?

“I’ve made a decision about being the best I can be this week so we can go win this game so we can keep playing,” Brees told reporters this week, when asked.

And yet the 41-year-old is aware time is not on his side, perhaps no more so then after a brutal sack in the second quarter of the team’s Week 10 win over the San Francisco 49ers saw him sidelined for four weeks due to injury to his ribs.

He returned in Week 15 for a 32-29 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, before closing out the 12-4 season with back-to-back wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers.

“I’ve played the last four seasons in a row as if it was my last. So as I sit here, right now, my approach is very much the same,” said Brees, who holds the record for most career passing yards and completions, figures that have remained elusive even for the seemingly untouchable Tom Brady.

Eleven years after he won Super Bowl MVP, his latest postseason bid begins at home against the Bears, against whom the Saints are enormously favored.

“They’re difficult against the run. It’s a heavy front. They rush the passer exceptionally well,” Saints head coach Sean Payton told reporters on Thursday, praising the Chicago defense, which allowed 344.9 yards per game in the regular season.

The 8-8 Bears, who recovered from a six-game mid-season losing streak to reach the playoffs for the second time in three years, boast the talents of six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack, who finished the regular season with nine sacks and an interception.

“Their red zone numbers are good,” said Payton. “And they create they create some real difficult matchup problems.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Michael Perry)