Drew Brees struggles in return from broken ribs in loss to Chiefs, now what do the Saints do?

When Drew Brees was ready to come back, he was going to be the New Orleans Saints’ starter. You don’t consider leaving one of the all-time greats on the bench, especially considering Taysom Hill’s inconsistency.

But when Brees came back from 11 broken ribs, it wasn’t pretty.

Brees started Sunday’s game by missing his first six passes, and though it got better, Brees never looked quite right in a 32-29 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He was 7-of-24 at one point in the fourth quarter. Considering Brees is the most accurate passer in NFL history, it appeared he wasn’t himself Sunday. Brees finished 15-of-34 for 234 yards and three touchdowns.

The Saints have lost two straight. The Packers are looking like the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Saints have two games left in the regular season to figure out if their legendary quarterback is going to be able to give them a chance to win in the playoffs.

Drew Brees struggles in return

Brees missed on several passes. It’s understandable. He had an injury that was hard to believe. Brees will turn 42 in August, and quarterbacks of his age usually are hitting the wall, whether they have 11 broken ribs or not.

The Saints have to hope Brees was rusty and will continue to get more comfortable and healthier as the playoffs near. It’s hard to envision a scenario in which head coach Sean Payton considers a change. The Saints will have to figure out what Brees is capable of, and hope he looks better than he did most of the game on Sunday.

Brees had some strong moments. He had a nice deep pass to Emmanuel Sanders in the first half. A late touchdown pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey kept the Saints’ hopes for a comeback win alive. Brees was 6-of-8 for 75 yards on that drive. Maybe that’s a sign that he’ll be fine.

The Saints have a very good defense and when the offense is right, it can score with anyone. Not having injured Michael Thomas doesn’t help, but New Orleans is still capable without him.

But if Brees plays like he did most of Sunday, it’s hard to see them making a long playoff run.

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) brings down New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Brett Duke)
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) brings down New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) in the first half on Sunday. (AP Photo/Brett Duke)

Chiefs look impressive in win

The Chiefs are an unquestioned Super Bowl favorite. They are 13-1 this season after going to New Orleans and beating the Saints. They took what looked like a bad injury when running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire hurt his leg in the second half. Le’Veon Bell was down briefly after a facemask penalty late in the game, too, but he looked OK on the sideline afterward.

The Chiefs took a 32-22 lead in the fourth quarter, behind Mahomes’ three touchdown passes. The Saints answered on Humphrey’s touchdown just before the two-minute warning, but Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for a first down and Kansas City ran out the rest of the clock after the facemask penalty on Bell.

Chiefs-Saints looked like a Super Bowl preview. It still could be. The Chiefs will be favored to make it out of the AFC. The Saints are much more of a question mark, at least until their 41-year-old quarterback shows he’s over a shocking injury.

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