The New Orleans Saints' 2020 season has come and gone following their NFC Divisional Round loss to the Super Bowl LV champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite falling short of their ultimate goal of a Super Bowl title, New Orleans claimed their 4th consecutive NFC South title and displayed resilience in the face of adversity.
The #3 ranked moment belongs to Saints QB Drew Brees and his resilience to lead the Saints to a 12-4 record through 11 broken ribs and a punctured lung.
In 15 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, QB Drew Brees has missed only ten games because of injury. Nine games have occurred in the past two seasons, but the Saints continued their winning ways without Brees and posting an 8-1 record. In Week 2 of 2019, Teddy Bridgewater stepped in for Brees after the 13x Pro Bowler after his right thumb's USC tore against the Los Angeles Rams. In 2020, Sean Payton turned to backup QB Taysom Hill to keep New Orleans in the playoff hunt. Hill led the Saints to a 3-1 record in Brees’ absence.
49ers DE Kentavious Street sacked Drew Brees in the second quarter of the Saints' Week 10 matchup. The literal bone-crushing blow left Brees in visible pain. However, the veteran quarterback finished the first half leading the Saints on a 57-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara. Brees managed to complete 5 of 6 passes on his final drive of the first half despite the physical discomfort. He was replaced by backup QB Jameis Winston who would lead the Saints to a 27-13 victory.
Following the game, Brees spoke to the media with a clear face of pain, disappointment, and doubt. Later, New Orleans disclosed that the 20-year veteran was diagnosed with 11 fractured ribs and a punctured lung. New Orleans placed their franchise quarterback on injured reserve (IR) for the next three weeks.
Without a real timeline for Brees’ return, the Saints' "Swiss Army Knife" Taysom Hill was the Saints quarterback. The BYU product stepped into Brees’ shoes in Week 11 and led the team to three consecutive victories as a first-time starter. One pivotal win was the "season's sweep" against longtime division rival the Atlanta Falcons.
Following the series of victories, the Saints suffered a loss to the Eagles in Week 14 and saw the end of “Taysom Time.” Drew Brees returned to action the following week against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Brees battled through the pain throughout the remainder of the 2020 season leading the Saints to a sweep of the NFC South, the conference’s number 2 seed, and a playoff victory. Despite the victories and the team’s overall success, it became clear Brees was still not 100%. Just days after the Saints divisional round exit Drew’s wife, Brittany, revealed via Instagram that the Saints field general was battling more than just his rib injury.
Brees' potential retirement announcement is looming, and one can only imagine that the injuries suffered throughout the 2020 season will factor into his decision. Nonetheless, Drew Brees battled more personal adversity than ever before in his Saints' career. He still managed a 12-4 season and a fourth consecutive NFC South crown through the adversity. Brees’ ability to battle through the injuries lands as our #3 defining moment of the Saints 2020 season.
Saints News Intern Joe McGuan contributed to the Article Series: Top 10 Defining Moments of Saints 2020 Season.
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