Drew Brees’ MVP candidacy takes a big hit in Dallas

New Orleans Saints


Quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense was kept in check by the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, as their 10-game winning streak came to an end.

For the first eleven games of the 2018 season, Canton-bound New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was having arguably the best season of his career. That all changed on Thursday night in Dallas.

Brees threw for just 127 yards against the Cowboys as the Saints saw their 10-game winning streak come to an end with a 13-10 loss.

That this was going to be a difficult night for Brees and the Saints offense was clear early on. Brees missed his first four passes for the first time in his 18-year career. He threw for just 39 yards in the first half, his fewest since 2004 when he was with the San Diego Chargers. The Saints trailed Dallas 10-0 at halftime, being shut out in the opening half for the first time in 71 games.

Coming into the game, Brees had the credentials of an MVP frontrunner. He led the league in completion percentage and passer rating while guiding New Orleans to the top seed in the NFC. The Cowboys, however, were able to contain the Saints offense. They got to Brees twice after he’d only been sacked once in the last five games. New Orleans had scored at least 30 points in each game during that stretch, but only managed 10 against the Cowboys defense.

Brees finally managed to get the Saints in the end zone with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood with a minute left in the third quarter. Now down by three, the Saints got the ball back on their own 15-yard line with 2:35 left in the fourth after Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott fumbled. On the second play of the ensuing drive, however, Brees’ pass to running back Alvin Kamara was intercepted by Jourdan Lewis, only the third interception he’s thrown this season.

“We didn’t really find a rhythm for pretty much the whole game,” he said at his post-game press conference, per NewOrleansSaints.com “For us, as an offense, we think complimentary football. Let’s put together a drive, let’s keep our defense off the field, let’s control the game, control the clock, control the ball. Just never felt like we really did that as an offense like we did this year.”

Brees now has 3,262 yards and 30 touchdowns and is still on pace to set league records in completion percentage and passer rating. But his challengers for the MVP award now see an opening after his struggles on Thursday. Kansas City second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes has 3,628 yards and a league-leading 37 touchdowns, while Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley leads the league with 17 touchdowns.

Gurley and the Rams also now have something Brees doesn’t: the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

As for how the Saints recover from their first loss since Week 1, Brees says the challenge will be getting back to the explosive offense they’ve been for most of the season.

“We’ll regroup after this weekend and get to work. We have a tough stretch ahead of us,” he said. “Here we are at 10-2, just felt like, man, we were rolling. So now it’s time to get that mojo back.”

The Saints will have plenty of time to do just that. Their next game isn’t until Dec. 9 when they travel to Tampa Bay, the same team that beat them the opening week of the season.



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