Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – This much we know about the Saints – don’t ever count them out.
Not when Drew Brees is the quarterback.
Not when all they need to do is go 89 yards in seven-plus minutes, needing more than a field goal.
And not when, well, ever.
The Saints came-from-behind to beat NFC South rival Carolina 30-27 on Sunday and really, who thought they wouldn’t come back at this point.
That’s 19 times in the Brees-Sean Payton era that New Orleans (4-1) has come back to win a game in the fourth quarter.
Sunday’s was as spectacular as any of them.
New Orleans led for all of the first three quarters and fell behind with 12:32 to play.
But it hadn’t done much of anything, gathering a scant 107 yards after halftime.
Yet, getting the ball back with 7:06 to play, down four and 89 yards to drive left nary a single heart pounding on New Orleans’ sideline.
“I think my mindset and everybody’s mindset when we got in the huddle was there was no doubt we were going to score,” left guard Carl Nicks said.
Brees’ comfort level and relaxation makes that so.
“It rubs off on all of us,” Nicks said. “It’s confident. There’s no urge or no stress in his voice. It’s just smooth, fluent.”
All Brees did was complete 8 of 9 passes for 80 yards, eluding pressure twice by stepping up into the pocket and letting the rush flow to his side.
When the chips were pressed fully to the center of the table, Brees stood unflinched, calling on running back Pierre Thomas on play designed for running back Darren Sproles.
The trickery worked – Brees said afterwards if Sproles is in on the second-and-one play with 1:08 to play, it raises red flags – and Thomas found himself all alone in the right flat, where he caught the ball, turned upfield and scored the game-winning touchdown.
The play was called “Slippery Naked” and, depending on how the season ends up, could end up being the play that saved the season on the drive that saved the season.
“It was methodical,” Brees said. “One play at a time. It was a good mix of pass and run and getting everyone involved.”
Brees was the most important cog in that machine, though, and it’s getting hard for the Saints to sit back and not ink him to a new contract, one he has more than earned.
He’s one of the best, if not the best, in keeping his team’s confidence up regardless of the situation.
“There is never worry, never panicking,” rookie running back Mark Ingram said. “He always waits for his opportunity to do his job. In a situation like that, we always have the utmost confidence in Drew. He is a great guy, a great player and there is no better person to be on the field with than him when you have to come from behind.”
No columnist could have said it any better.
Sunday’s final drive was no fable, no parable, no fairy-tale.
It was normal.
It was why Brees deserves all the fame and glory he won’t ever take.
And it’s why the Saints are never out of any game they play.