Ever since Drew Brees arrived in the Big Easy, he's made playing quarterback in the NFL look easy.
Brees has 27,698 yards passing since arriving in New Orleans in 2006, more than any other NFL quarterback during that span.
Before that, though, he had never thrown for as many as 4,000 yards in a season, and spent much of his first five years in the NFL looking over his shoulder in San Diego.
"We had experienced success in San Diego in my last two years there, but I just never got the feeling that everybody there was all in with me," Brees recalled this week as he prepared for Monday night's meeting with Atlanta.
Brees now believes he needed what Matt Ryan has had since being drafted by the Falcons in 2008 the full and unwavering support of not just his head coach, but also the entire organization. Brees found that in New Orleans, which in the months after Hurricane Katrina needed someone like him someone with something to prove as much as he needed a team that believed he could be the cornerstone of its success.
"It was nice to ... walk into an organization where I just got the feeling like everybody believed in me," Brees said. "Sometimes that's all you need. All you need is somebody to believe in you and then, obviously, my mindset was I'm not going to let these guys down. They have a lot invested in me, so I want to prove them right."
He's certainly done that.
Brees has thrown for no fewer than 4,388 yards in a single season with New Orleans. In 2008, he threatened Dan Marino's 1984 single-season yards passing record of 5,084, finishing with 5,069. In 2009, Brees set an NFL record for single-season completion percentage with 70.6 while leading the Saints to their first Super Bowl, in which Brees was selected MVP.
This season, Brees is completing 71.5 percent of his passes, threatening his own record, and with two games left is only 305 yards passing away from breaking Marino's mark.
"He's operating at a level that we probably haven't seen," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "It's going to be a challenge for us."
Down 17-0, Patriots stuck together
New England on Saturday won its seventh game in a row by rallying from a 17-0 hole to beat Miami 27-24. It was the 10th time this season a team has come back from at least 17 points to win, the most in a single NFL season.
"All the while, we never gave up on one another and never said anything negative to one another," defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said. "Going down 17-0 is a pretty big deficit, but once again this team showed its character."
The AFC East champion Patriots (12-3) would get home-field advantage for the playoffs by beating Buffalo next weekend.