Drew Brees’ return to Saints was a mixed bag in loss to Chiefs

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Drew Brees was back on the field Sunday, but the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader couldn’t outlast MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Brees played for the first time since fracturing 11 ribs Nov. 15 against San Francisco, but Mahomes’ three touchdowns propelled Kansas City to an NFL-best 13-1 record with a 32-29 victory over the Saints in New Orleans.

Brees didn’t complete a pass until the second quarter before finishing 15-for-34 for 234 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

“It wasn’t real efficient, obviously, in the passing game,” Brees said. “I’d say that was a combination of forcing some things down the field instead of just taking a completion underneath, there were some miscues, and they hit us with some looks defensively where you just have to throw the ball away.”  

The Saints, who had won three straight games with backup Taysom Hill at quarterback before last week’s loss to Philadelphia, also were without third-stringer Jameis Winston, who was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list.

“At this point every game’s so important,” Brees said. “Down the stretch, everybody’s battling something. And everybody’s fighting to get on the field and put together our best effort in order to help our team win and advance our playoff status.”

Drew Brees
Drew Brees runs off the field after the Saints’ loss to the Chiefs.
AP

Mahomes was sacked four times but threw for 254 yards and three scores, including Tyreek Hill’s NFL-high 17th of the season, as Kansas City posted its best 14-game start in franchise history and moved closer to clinching the No. 1 playoff seed in the AFC.

The Saints nudged ahead, 15-14, when Brees found Latavius Murray for a 24-yard TD on their first drive of the third quarter, but touchdowns by Mecole Hardman and ex-Jet Le’Veon Bell gave the Chiefs a 29-15 lead. Brees’ 17-yarder toss to Lil’Jordan Humphrey drew the Saints within three with 2:06 remaining.

Sooner Not Later

Kyler Murray grabbed the first NFL duel of recent former Oklahoma quarterbacks, as the Cardinals (8-6) pulled out a wild 33-26 victory over rookie Jalen Hurts and the Eagles (4-9-1).

Murray’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Deandre Hopkins with 7:17 remaining snapped a 26-26 tie for Arizona’s second straight win. The former Heisman winner registered a career-high 406 passing yards with three scores and added his 11th rushing TD of the season.

Hurts, who won his starting debut last week against New Orleans, finished with 338 passing yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions — but two late Hail Mary passes were batted away.

Open The Door

With Alex Smith sitting out with a calf injury, 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins was unable to carry the Washington Football Team to a fifth straight victory.

With a 20-15 home loss to Seattle, Washington (6-8) gave the Giants a chance to retake first place in the NFC East on Sunday night against Cleveland.

“We had some opportunities to win this game and we didn’t, and that’s the disappointing part,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said. “The biggest thing is this next game [Sunday against Carolina] is the most important game we’ll play this year, and that’s the truth.”

Haskins set a career high with 38 completions for 295 yards, but he also threw two costly interceptions to Shaquill Griffin and D.J. Reed.

Russell Wilson was held to a season-low 121 passing yards, but Carlos Hyde ripped a 50-yard scoring burst in the third quarter as the Seahawks (10-4) built a 20-3 lead and held on to clinch a playoff berth — the first of former Jets safety Jamal Adams’ career.

“That’s a hell of a feeling, man,” Adams said. “I’m sorry, I’m not used to this, guys. I know you guys are used to Seattle always going to the playoffs — I’m not used to this. … It’s a feeling that you really can’t describe, playing meaningful football.”

TB Does It Again

It wasn’t quite a 28-3 deficit in the Super Bowl, but Tom Brady and his new team, the Buccaneers, overcame a 24-7 third-quarter hole against Atlanta for a 31-27 win to improve to 9-5.

Brady, who led the Patriots back from 25 points down to defeat Atlanta in Super Bowl LI, finished with a season-high 390 passing yards and TD passes to Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown (first of the season) as the Bucs moved back within a game of New Orleans in the NFC South.

“It was great poise by everybody, and everybody hung in there. We got off to a tough start but found a way to win,” Brady said. “It was a great win for our team and we’re gonna have to keep building on it. … But we’re gonna have to figure out how to play our best for 60 minutes, as opposed to 30.”

Tom Brady
Tom Brady and Antonio Brown celebrate after connecting for a touchdown.
Getty Images

Pats All, Folks

Bill Belichick and the New England team Brady left behind officially were eliminated from playoff contention for the first time since 2008 with a 22-12 loss to Miami (9-5).

“It’s a disappointing day for us. We didn’t do anything well enough to win the game,” Belichick said after his team fell to 6-8, clinching its first non-winning season since 2000 (5-11). “Miami was just better than we were today, that’s the bottom line. We all just came up short. As a staff and a team, we have to perform better than this.”

Tua Tagovailoa ran for two scores and running back Salvon Ahmad added 122 yards on the ground and a touchdown for the Dolphins (9-5).

The Hurt Locker

Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, left the game late in the second quarter with what appeared to be a serious non-contact knee injury.

Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire also had to be helped to the locker room with a painful left-leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Other injuries across the league: Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup (hip), safety Xavier Woods (chest) and linebacker Leighton Vander Esche (ankle), 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (ankle), safety Jimmie Ward (concussion) and defensive end Dion Jordan (knee), Seahawks running back DeeJay Dallas (ankle), Washington linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (elbow), Ravens cornerback Devontae Harris (thigh), Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis (groin), Colts receiver Marcus Johnson (quad), Texans tackle Tytus Howard (concussion), Saints receiver Tre’Quan Smith (ankle).

Post Patterns

Cowboys running back Tony Pollard scored twice with Ezekiel Elliott (calf) sidelined as Dallas (5-9) won its second straight game, 41-33, over San Francisco (5-9). … Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson connected for three passing TDs and added a rushing score as Baltimore (9-5) posted a 40-14 win over Jacksonville (1-13). Dez Bryant caught his first NFL touchdown pass since Dec. 10, 2017 for the Ravens. … Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s three TD passes against Tampa Bay moved him past Fran Tarkenton into 10th place all-time (343). … Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill accounted for five touchdowns (three passing) and NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry added 147 rushing yards as Tennessee (10-4) cruised to a 46-25 win over Detroit (5-9). … Colts quarterback Philip Rivers completed 22 of 28 for 228 and two TDs to move within one of Dan Marino (420) for fifth on the career TD list as the Colts (10-4) kept pace with the Titans in the AFC South with a 27-20 win over Houston (4-10). Texans receiver Keke Coutee fumbled at the 1-yard line with 19 seconds remaining and the Colts recovered to preserve the win. … Texans wide receiver Chad Hansen, the Jets’ fourth-round pick in 2017, scored his first NFL TD for Houston. … Bears running back David Montgomery had 146 rushing yards and two TDs as Chicago (7-7) stayed alive in the wild-card hunt (7-7) with a 33-27 win over Minnesota (6-8). NFC rushing leader Dalvin Cook (132 yards) scored his 16th TD this season for the Vikings. … Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez was active Sunday, two weeks after having a cancerous tumor removed.

Three Stars

  1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers QB

The three-time MVP racked up a season-best 390 passing yards with two scoring throws as Tampa Bay overcame a 17-point deficit in a 31-27 win over Atlanta.

  1. Ryan Tannehill, Titans QB

Tannehill accounted for five touchdowns, throwing for 273 yards and three TDs while running for two more scores in Tennessee’s 46-25 win over Detroit.

Cardinals
Kyler Murray scores a touchdown.
Getty Images
  1. Kyler Murray, Cardinals QB

The 2019 No. 1-overall pick enjoyed his first career 400-yard passing day (406) and totaled four TDs (three passing) in Arizona’s 33-26 win over Philadelphia.

Fantasy Insanity

  • Ezekiel Elliott was inactive, making Tony Pollard a valuable plug-and-play and cheap DFS option. But Zeke had averaged just 9.6 PPR points in the Cowboys offense the past seven games. Would his backup really fare much better? Well, yes. Much, much better. Pollard racked up 69 rushing yards and had six catches for 63 yards, and he scored twice for a 31.2 PPR tally — tops among RBs heading into the late Sunday afternoon games.
  • Lions running back D’Andre Swift had a nice day (15-67-2 rushing, 4-15 receiving, 22.2 PPR points). He was stopped on a 1-yard leap trying to score a TD and lost a fumble on the play. Had he managed to score instead, that would have boosted his total to 30.3, trailing only Pollard among RBs through the early Sunday games.
  • A few weeks ago, the Madman and other fantasy owners were hyped about an upcoming breakout by Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. Instead, we got a T.Y. Hilton reawakening. Until Sunday, when Zach Pascal ruined both. Pascal racked up 24.9 PPR points (5-79-2 receiving). Hilton and Pittman combined for 15.0.

He Said What?

“Obviously, we know what the standard is around here. It doesn’t take a person that’s oblivious or that’s been living under a rock to understand that. We just came up short.”

— Patriots quarterback Cam Newton after New England was eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 2008.



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