Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees has been in the NFL for 20 seasons and despite Pro Football Hall of Fame credentials, some “experts” still doubt him.
There was no way Brees and the Saints were going to slow Tom Brady and Tampa Bay’s march to the Super Bowl, “experts” said Sunday night. NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth seemed to have all their preparation based on Brady and how he’s turned the Bucs around.
A funny thing happened on the way to winning the Lombardi Trophy: Brees and the Saints shredded Tampa Bay’s vaunted defense for 31 first half points on the way to a 38-3 victory. It’s the worst loss of Brady’s career, topping a 31-point defeat against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 7, 2003.
It was a vintage Brees performance, completing 26 of 32 passes for 222 yards and four scores to four receivers.
Brees improved his career record against Brady to 5-2, throwing four touchdown passes and retaking the NFL career TD pass record (564-561). Brees will have a chance to pad that lead later this season when Tampa Bay has its bye week. The Saints have already had their bye week.
"We've been playing against each other for 22 years," Brees said on NFL.com of his rivalry with Brady. "There's obviously a lot of respect there and, you know, I think throughout our careers, I think what we both say is just how grateful we are to have this opportunity to play this great game, to play it as long as we've been able to play it."
Michaels and Collinsworth had to dip into their files of filler talk during a second half when Brady stayed in, trying desperately to throw at least one TD pass to inch closer to Brees. The defining moment of that selfishness came on first-and-goal at the Saints 1. Three pass attempts to just one rushing try just so Brady could have a shot at TD pass No. 562 in a 38-0 game. The Bucs were turned back four times.
That rushing attempt at the goal line was just one of an NFL record five rushes. The fifth rushing attempt was Bucs backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s kneel-down on the final snap. The previous record was six, a mark reached four times and most recently by Minnesota against Buffalo in 2018.
The Saints (6-2) not only took a half-game lead on the Bucs (6-3) in the NFC South, but it’s really one and a half games since New Orleans owns the first tiebreaker, a sweep of the season series. By the way, that’s the first time Brady has ever been swept in a division series. Not hard to believe when you look at the records of the New England Patriots’ AFC rivals (New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins) for the past 20 years. The Jets are 148-191; Bills are 134-185 and the Dolphins are 164-174 for a combined .447 winning percentage.
Disrespect is nothing new to Brees. During his peak years at Purdue, ESPN and others were touting Michael Vick as the next breed of quarterback. Brees went on to become Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 2010. Vick went to federal prison in 2007 for 21 months for his role in a dogfighting ring.
Brees also had no shot at the 2000 Heisman Trophy despite performing the near-impossible feat of carrying Purdue to just its second Rose Bowl. Florida State’s Chris Weinke won the Heisman and like most Heisman winners, flopped miserably in the NFL. Brees settled for the 2000 Maxwell Award as college football’s best player and football immortality.

Hot seats? Maybe not
As disappointed as Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska fans have to be after three weeks of the Big Ten football season, there’s a big reason to believe why coaches Jim Harbaugh, James Franklin and Scott Frost are likely to get another season.
COVID has not only threatened the health of our nation but has left a devastating impact on many athletic departments’ bank accounts.
How can any university president or athletic director justify firing a head coach (and paying off the contracts of the coach and his staff) to hire another expensive big name coach when their athletic departments have been cutting sports and laying off people? The best public relations firms in the nation couldn’t mount a defense for that.
Harbaugh and Frost also have an advantage of being former football standouts at Michigan and Nebraska, respectively. If either departs after this season, it will be their idea. Harbaugh may be the most likely since there probably will be several NFL job openings. The Bears, for one, might be a good fit.

Preseason All-Big Ten
Purdue junior Trevion Williams was one of 10 basketball players selected to the preseason All-Big Ten team on Monday.
The honor comes just days after Williams was placed on the Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list. That honor is presented to college basketball’s best center each year.
Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis also made the preseason All-Big Ten list, which is headed by unanimous selections Luke Garza of Iowa and Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois. Garza was the choice for preseason player of the year.
The other team members are Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, Joe Wieskamp of Iowa, Aaron Henry of Michigan State, Marcus Carr of Minnesota, Geo Baker of Rutgers and Nate Reuvers of Wisconsin.
Williams was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection a year ago after averaging 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in just 21.4 minutes per game.
With Matt Haarms departing as a graduate transfer to BYU, Williams will get the bulk of center minutes this season. During an intrasquad scrimmage on Monday, consisting of four 8-minute quarters, Williams posted 28 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Most notably, Williams was 13 of 14 at the free throw line.
Interestingly, freshman 7-4 center Zach Edey scored 17 points on 6 of 6 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Classmate Jaden Ivey scored 22 points on 8 of 12 shooting. Redshirt freshman Brandon Newman made all six of his shots on the way to 16 points. Newman also handed out six assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Purdue opens the season at 6 p.m. Nov. 25 against Liberty in the Space Coast Challenge at Melbourne, Fla. Clemson and Mississippi State follow at 8:30. The championship and third-place games take place on Thanksgiving, also at 6 and 8:30 p.m. All four games will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
Liberty went 30-4 last season but lost four of its top five scorers.

Big game Saturday night
It won’t get the national hype because of the schools involved, but Saturday night’s Purdue-Northwestern game at Ross-Ade Stadium has major Big Ten West Division implications.
With Wisconsin on the edge of not qualifying for the Big Ten championship thanks to two COVID no contests, the winner will not only remain undefeated but will have a clear shot at a championship game berth. Division rivals Minnesota and Iowa are 1-2, Nebraska is 0-2 and Illinois is 0-3.
“We’ve got a great opponent in Northwestern that we get an opportunity to play at home,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said Monday. “I know our guys are excited about this opportunity and we’re looking forward to getting back on the game field and getting back in a rhythm.”
Northwestern’s 3-0 record is its best start in conference play since 2000, the year Purdue beat the Wildcats on the way to a share of the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth.
Brohm announced that offensive lineman Cam Craig needs surgery and will not return this season. Former Central Catholic standout Jackson Anthrop is practicing but not completely recovered from a shoulder injury.

Noteworthy
Purdue junior guard Eric Hunter Jr., will miss the next 6-8 weeks after suffering a compression fracture of his tibia in his knee during Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage. There is no structural or ligament damage in the knee.
Hunter Jr. averaged 10.2 points and 2.6 assists per game last year as a sophomore. Purdue seems to be deep at guard this season with sophomore Isaiah Thompson, redshirt freshman Brandon Newman and true freshmen Jaden Ivey and Ethan Morton waiting for this opportunity. …
Indiana celebrated its largest victory against Michigan, 38-21, since 1959. That also snapped a 24-game losing streak against the Wolverines.
The Hoosiers hadn’t defeated multiple ranked opponents in the same season since 2004 and have not been 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1988. Their No. 10 ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll is the Hoosiers’ highest since Sept. 22, 1969 . . .
Maryland won consecutive Big Ten games in the same season for the first time with Saturday’s shocking 35-19 victory at Penn State. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns, the most by a Maryland passer in a conference game since 2010 . . .
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz won his 163rd Big Ten game on Saturday and moved into fourth all-time in Big Ten history. He trails Ohio State’s Woody Hayes (202), Chicago’s Amos Alonzo Stagg (199) and Michigan’s Bo Schembechler (194). Ferentz broke a tie with Penn State’s Joe Paterno.

Kenny Thompson is the former sports editor for the Lafayette Journal & Courier and an award-winning journalist. He has covered Purdue athletics for many years.