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Bleacher Report – Vikings

In Miracle game, Vikings learned no lead is safe against Brees

By Matthew Coller

If not for a swing-and-miss from a New Orleans Saints safety and incredible play by Stefon Diggs along the sideline, the Minneapolis Miracle game would have been remembered for Drew Brees’s incredible second-half comeback against the Minnesota Vikings.

After struggling in the first half against the NFL’s No. 1 defense at US Bank Stadium in the divisional game, Brees’ second half included just one punt, three touchdown drives and a field goal that put the Saints in position to win the game, save for a miracle.

Brees’s second-half production didn’t come easy against the Vikings, but he made a masterful tight-window touchdown throw to Alvin Kamara and dropped in a pass between defenders to Willie Snead to convert a fourth down on the go-ahead drive.

This season Brees has been doing a lot of the same things he did against the Vikings in big situations. He led a fourth-quarter comeback against the Ravens last week and has a 133.3 quarterback rating in the fourth quarter. That’s no small sample size fluke. Last year his fourth quarter rating was 117.6.

“Number on he’s a great competitor, number two, I think as the game goes on he gets a much better feel at what the defense is trying to do throughout the course of the ballgame with him,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. “And a guy like him who has seen everything – he’s seen everything anyway and seen so many different looks that he can decipher things quickly. That’s part of it. And he’s got good players, too. Michael Thomas is good, Kamara is good, Ingram is good. They have a lot of good players.”

Brees has matched up two other times against Zimmer since 2014. In Zimmer’s first year, the Saints’ quarterback lit up the Vikings’ defense in a 20-9 win in which Brees finished with a 120.3 rating. Last year, the Saints’ offense stalled in the red zone and didn’t get much help from their defense in a dominant Vikings victory. Brees still had a quarterback rating over 100.

Coincidentally Brees will be taking on his fifth different quarterback in four contests against the Zimmer Vikings. He beat Matt Cassel in a game in which Teddy Bridgewater made his NFL debut, lost to Sam Bradford and then was defeated by Case Keenum. Now the future Hall of Fame quarterback will match up with Kirk Cousins.

“When you’re as good as he is there’s not one thing,” Cousins said. I mean, if there was one thing, he wouldn’t be the hall of famer he is. He doesn’t take sacks, he protects the football, he throws for a lot of yards, a lot of touchdowns, he’s good on third downs, he’s stayed healthy — he’s had durability. That’s why he’s Drew Brees; it’s not one thing. The whole point of him being Drew is that you can’t just name one thing.”

Brees beat Cousins 34-31 in New Orleans last year in a game in which he threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns. Brees led a game-tying touchdown drive with 1:05 left and then put Washington away with a game-winning field goal drive.

Part of Brees’s success, Zimmer said, is the fact that he has been with head coach Sean Payton for many years.

“He’ll run anything anytime,” Zimmer said. “Second-and-1 he might be in no backs. It’s play-action shots on the first possession. It doesn’t matter, formations, movements, personnel groupings. He doesn’t care. I don’t think he really cares about down and distance.”

Zimmer and Payton were both part of Bill Parcells’ coaching staff while in Dallas.

“He’s innovative, he’s smart, he finds good matchups,” Zimmer said. “He uses players in great ways. Their tempo, sprint four guys onto the field and they’ll get to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball. They want to take the defense’s breath away is really what they want to do.”

The Vikings will especially have to find their breath in the fourth quarter this time around against Brees because miracles don’t happen very often but big performances from Brees in the fourth quarter do.

The post In Miracle game, Vikings learned no lead is safe against Brees appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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