Analysis: In year of running backs, Saints turn to Drew to deliver

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The 2017 season for the Saints has been all about a vastly improved defense, and the tandem of running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.

But, in the playoffs, it was time for quarterback Drew Brees to deliver.

Brees, who turns 39 January 15th, passed  for 376 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-26 playoff win over Carolina. The win was the Saints first playoff victory at home in six years.

With Carolina geared to stop the run, and playing a single high safety defense, Brees was on target.

He threw for 230 yards on 13 completions in the first half. After a pair of lackluster offensive series, Brees connected on an 80 yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. Ginn was not the first option on the throw, but when the safety got out of position, Brees found the streaking Ginn with a perfect throw.

Brees completed passes to eight different receivers, including four to wide receiver Brandon Coleman, and three to tight end Josh Hill.

In the Saints dressing room, the atmosphere was festive, and it was special. As media was allowed in, several of the 2009 Saints lined the doorway. Wide receiver Marques Colston and running back Reggie Bush were among them.

Bush led the 2009 Saints in the Who Dat cheer before the game. They get a game ball, and so does the Saints game operations staff. On the huge video boards in each endzone, Saints waving white towels that read “dome field advantage” were super- imposed on the screen. Even head coach Sean Payton was waving a towel.

The crowd was noisy, and they got a post game shout out from Brees.

“I know everyone says they have the best fans,” said Brees. “But, we truly do.”

“We have a program here,” said Payton, referencing to the return of many former players.

It was just like the good ole days, the Saints winning a playoff game at home, with their ageless quarterback, carving up, yet another defense.