Onus on Drew Brees

The last time the Chargers played the Jets, quarterback Drew Brees was chased to the sidelines with a concussion after a hit by safety John McGraw. McGraw was fined $7,500 for the helmet-to-helmet blow.

Perhaps it was that blow that knocked some solid play into the Comeback Player of the Year's head. It just took an extra game to show that Drew Brees had officially arrived on the scene.

Through his first three games, Brees had thrown two interceptions and fumbled four times.

Brees went on a tear after that. He threw 18 touchdowns to just one interception during an eight game stretch.

Now that he is on the verge of his first playoff game, Brees prefers to keep everything that got him here intact.

"Keep the same routine, the same attitude and obviously the same expectations," Brees said. "This is why we worked so hard. It doesn't really matter what's happened in the past. We did all that to get to this point. This is why we play, right here. We play for the opportunity to win a championship. It's been trimmed down and now we played for keeps."

Since game three, Brees has turned the ball over just six times and that has been one of the defining moments of his season.

Marty Schottenheimer has always talked about limiting turnovers and playing within the system – managing a game. For the first time in four years, Brees grasped that concept and adhered to it.

"We have certainly done a far, far better job this year than we have at any time in the past," Schottenheimer said. "Drew (Brees) leads the NFL right now with the fewest interceptions per pass attempt."

On the eve of his first playoff game, Brees admitted it would be a challenge playing a night game and keeping the emotions in check.

His teammate's think he will rise up to the occasion and he may have to with a wet ball and a wetter field.

"It's going to hit him," wide receiver Keenan McCardell said. "But you have to realize that each week it's going to hit him more and more. But you don't worry about the spotlight. The only way you can keep the spotlight on you is if you go out and play."

"I think Drew will be fine," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "I don't think there will be anything he has to worry about. It is the ultimate game and he has been looking forward to it. That's his mind-set. That's Drew Brees. He is just a winner, that's it."

His renaissance this year has been a catalyst for the Bolts offense, ranked third in the league in scoring with 27.9 points per game.

The Chargers 29 passing touchdowns tied for fifth best in the league and Brees accounted for 27 of those.

Two quarterbacks, not known for their arms, will brave what the forecasters are calling unnatural spirits in San Diego. Winds are expected to gust from 25-to-35 miles per hour.

But Schottenheimer will tell you it isn't the strength of your arm, but rather how you use your brain and what you do with the arm you have.

"(Joe) Montana was that way," Schottenheimer said. "Joe didn't have a really big arm, but he would throw the ball before the guy came out of the break. I can't tell you how many times in games when I was in Cleveland with (Bernie) Kosar and he dropped back to throw and I'm saying, ‘Oh, Bernie, no...Great throw Bernie.' The guy wasn't even into his break, let alone out of his break, and the ball was already gone.

He believes Brees is that guy now.

Odd to think that guy would choose this week to come out and say he wanted a long-term commitment.

"I'm of the belief that I want to be loyal to an organization," he said. "I want an organization to be loyal to me. I want a long-term commitment, I can tell you that."

Will that cloud his vision and goal of the Super Bowl? Fans hope not.

If it isn't the long term commitment, perhaps it will be the rain and wind. Or it could be the same Drew Brees seen throughout the year. Steady, confident, and a leader – or better yet – a manager of the game.


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