Brees one TD away from record
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will likely set a new record Sunday against the San Diego Chargers when he throws a touchdown pass.
Brees has already tied a 50-year-old record held by John Unitas with touchdown passes in 47 consecutive games. Of course, in Unitas’ day, it took almost four seasons to reach that figure. Now, it only takes three.
After Brees reached 47 Sunday against Green Bay, Unitas’ son Joe wrote a letter to Brees that he put on his Facebook page:
“Drew, I wanted to take a minute to congratulate you on tying my father’s record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. I’ve been following your pursuit of the record since last season. I’m a big fan of yours, and wish you the best Sunday night against San Diego as you try to break the record. My father always said that records were meant to be broken. I know that if he was still with us that he would wish you the best as well.
“When I look back on my father’s life I remember a man who was much bigger than the game of football. The things he would appreciate most about you have nothing to do with football; it’s about who you are as a person. You’re a role model for today’s youth, a family man, and a humanitarian who cares for his community.
“My father would tell you these are the important things in life, not some record in a book. Continue to be a leader for your team and the City of New Orleans. You’re a great quarterback but even better man. Stay healthy and safe this week and in the future. My family and I will be watching Sunday night cheering for you. Best of luck.
“Sincerely, Joe Unitas”
What’s notable is Joe Unitas’ comment about watching Brees since last season. That means he must know how close Brees came to having the streak snapped on an October afternoon (the day before Halloween) in St. Louis.
The Saints were 5-2 and coming off a 62-7 demolishing of the Indianapolis Colts. The Rams were 0-6, had lost to the Dallas Cowboys the week before, 34-7, and had scored just 56 points in those six losses. With A.J. Feeley playing quarterback for an injured Sam Bradford, the game appeared to be a huge mismatch.
However, the Rams sacked Brees three times in the first half and scored two touchdowns in the final 1:10, helped by a Brees interception, to take a 17-0 halftime lead. St. Louis led 24-14 in the fourth quarter when safety Darian Stewart intercepted another Brees pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 2:51 to play.
To that point, Brees was 20-for-31 passing but for only 181 yards. And most importantly, he didn’t have a touchdown pass. After a touchback, the final 171 seconds would be spent desperately trying to extend the streak to 35 games.
In the final possession, which lasted 15 plays, the Saints attempted to pass on every down. Brees was sacked twice for eight yards in losses, and ended up completing 10 of 13 passes for 88 yards and converting four third-down plays. The final third-down conversion was an 8-yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore that came with six seconds left on the game clock.
That’s how close Brees came to having the streak stopped.
Texans running back Arian Foster hasn’t had a game with fewer than 24 rushing attempts, and he currently leads the league with 103 carries. And coach Gary Kubiak says he will keep feeding him the ball.
“He can handle it,” Kubiak said. “I know that.”
Sunday against Tennessee, the Texans had a big lead, but Foster was still getting carries. Kubiak said there’s no need to scale back during games.
He said, “We’re giving Arian some breaks during the course of practice during the week. He looks fine to me. He’s holding up fine. He hasn’t missed any time other than the time we’ve given him. He makes us go so I’m not too concerned with that at this point.”
The Ring of Honor
The Chiefs inducted guard Will Shields into their Ring of Honor Sunday, but that wasn’t the entire story. Most notable is that the Ring of Honor was back after fans had complained about its absence.
Following the renovation of Arrowhead Stadium, the club replaced the Ring of Honor with streaming video boards that were used for advertisers and sponsors. That didn’t sit well with the team’s fans, and finally the organization did something about it.
Said team chairman Clark Hunt, “I heard from a number of fans who said they missed seeing the Ring of Honor inside the stadium on game day. With this being our 50th year in Kansas City, we thought it was the perfect time to bring back the Ring of Honor.”
A Waste of Talent
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will take the heat for the five interceptions he threw Monday night against the Bears, but the team should be running out of patience with wide receiver Dez Bryant. The decision-makers were tantalized by his talent, but it takes more than ability to achieve at a high level in the NFL.
It’s apparent his head isn’t always in the game and a team can’t win with players like that. Romo had just 12 incompletions in 43 attempts Monday night, but five were those interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Said Romo: “We have to get over it. It’s going to suck for a few days now. Obviously, it’s going to sit there in your stomach and eat at you. I was trying in different situations out there to do too much and get the ball in different areas, and that’s going to catch up to you sometimes in the National Football League.
Berry’s Last Stand
The Lions released cornerback Aaron Berry after two arrests this past summer, and he was suspended by the NFL for the first three games of the season. However, it didn’t take the Jets long to sign him after the suspension ended, with their need for cornerbacks following the knee injury suffered by Darrelle Revis.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said, “We feel that Aaron has a chance to be successful on and off the field here. If we didn’t believe that, then we wouldn’t bring him here. He’s got the physical skills we look for in our corners. And the No. 1 skill set would be man cover skills. We feel he has that.”
Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh was an assistant at the University of Pittsburgh when Berry was in college.
Berry acknowledged talking to Revis and said, “He just told me, ‘Learn from your mistakes and take advantage of this opportunity. Because you’re not going to get a third.’”
Asked the message he gave the Jets, Berry said, “Did I make two big, dumb mistakes? Yes, I did. But am I a bad person? No. And people who know me and supported me in this league and throughout college were able to get that through to them as well.
“(They) trusted me, and I’d be a fool to let them down with another mistake.”
*Arizona wide receiver Andre Roberts had a career-high 118 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins Sunday in the Cardinals’ come-from-behind victory. The Cardinals haven’t had the support for Larry Fitzgerald since the departures of Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston. Said coach Ken Whisenhunt, “I remember last year everybody talking about all the receivers we should bring in to be the No. 2. So I think it’s nice to see Andre getting opportunities. Sometimes that’s the way it goes. The ball will find you and it’s doing that with Andre.”
*Packers wide receiver James Jones could see his role expanded with Greg Jennings potentially out after aggravating a groin injury against the Saints. Jones had two touchdowns in the game and leads the team with three.
*Can Eagles quarterback Michael Vick continue to avoid turnovers? He had none in Sunday’s win over the Giants and, against the blitz in that game, he completed 8-of-12 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.
*Bills running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller played with injuries Sunday against New England, and both had crucial fumbles in the game. Said Spiller, “The main thing that I said is, ‘If I can be effective I’m going to get out there.’ I’m not going to get out there if I felt I couldn’t contribute for our team. I felt I was good enough to do that.”
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis on Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who is being treated for leukemia: “He’s a man of men. He’s a man that people want to aspire to be like. That when you grow up as a man, that when you’re around Chuck you realize that, you know what, if life offers nothing else it offered me the opportunity to be around a man. A true man.”
Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer on hearing blame being placed on the altitude for the way the team lost to Denver Sunday: “We’re not using that as an excuse. The altitude was not a factor — that was not the cause — that was not the reason for any negativity or bad things that happened to us as a team. We got our butts whipped. We all know that.”