A Message to Brees

After turning the ball over three times, Brees was benched in favor of Doug Flutie in Sunday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Flutie did not produce any points in his brief time on the field and the question is what will happen next week? <br><br> Brees will start next week for the San Diego Chargers, but there was a caveat placed on the quarterback by Marty Schottenheimer. A lesson if you will.

Quickly ending any speculation over a quarterback controversy, Marty Schottenheimer told reporters in his post-game press conference that Drew Brees will start the finale against the Oakland Raiders.

Schottenheimer also sent a message to Brees on Sunday with the benching. Simply put: turn the ball over and the bench will be your best friend.

"You will not play quarterback, or any other position that possesses the ball, for me…you have to take care of the ball," said Schottenheimer. "Because it is the difference between winning games in this league."

When asked to evaluate Brees' performance, Schottenheimer went back to the well from last week.

"When you turn the ball over, you can't have what I would consider a winning performance. Fumbled it, two interceptions."

For the second week in a row, Brees turned the ball over three times and the Steelers turned that into 17 points, scoring each time they created a turnover. In a 40-24 game, 17 points is the difference between a win and a loss.

"Their quarterback threw some good balls to us and I happened to make (the plays)," Deshea Townsend said of his two interceptions and fumble recovery and the how kind Drew Brees is to him.

The fumble was a result of Brees trying to make a play when there was no play to be had. Instead of tucking the ball and gaining a few yards, he ran sideways parallel to the line looking for an open receiver. With his attention elsewhere, Troy Polamalu closed quickly and forced the ball free.

On his first interception, Brees threw the ball too far for Boston along the sidelines and Deshea Townsend picked the pass off. "I was over the top of the receiver. I couldn't believe that he just threw it like that," Townsend said, ragging on Brees. Then on his last pick, Brees tossed the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson with a referee square in his way. That ball was delivered behind Tomlinson and bounced into the air for Townsend who trotted into the end zone.

After the final interception, Schottenheimer told Brees he was being pulled and Brees got into a shouting match with his coach. Minutes later Brees was offering support for the new quarterback, Doug Flutie.

"I understand you can't turn the ball over in this league," said Brees. "You are not going to win if you do that and today I had three turnovers. It was just unfortunate that interception, the one right before I got pulled, the circumstances that caused that interception is what got me pulled because I had two prior turnovers. It was bad luck but that was my third turnover of the day.

"Obviously, I was upset that I got pulled."

"We had a dialogue about it," said Schottenheimer, "and I just made sure he understood the reason I made the change was, if you want to play quarterback for a team that I coach, you have to take care of the football. If you are a running back, you cannot turn the football over.

"You can't turn the ball over and play," said Brees. "I think that is the message he is trying to send."

"I have been in this business a long time and I know with a certainty, if you take care of the football, a lot of good things happen to your football team," Schottenheimer said.

"And if you fail to do that, you are going to lose."

Brees was willing to shoulder the blame. He understood the move by Schottenheimer, even though in the heat of the moment he was animated on the sidelines.

"We talked about it and we are going to fix it," Brees said.

The final game of the year awaits and Brees' future may rest on his performance against Oakland.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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