Saints at Giants
1 p.m., Fox
For this game – and another two after it at least – Drew Brees is the acting dean of NFL starting quarterbacks. Nobody in the league has had more starts than him (217) except Tom Brady (223), who is serving a four-game suspension. So what does it take to reach such an esteemed loft?
“I guess just hang on as long as you can,” he said.
Brees, 37, said he has no plans to end his career soon.
“Three years ago I said I could play for another 10 years,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s going to be the case but I don’t think it will be because physically I can’t. It’s just a matter of how long do I want to play for. If I’m having fun playing at a high level and am able to stay healthy, I’ll play as long as I can.”
While Brees’ elderstatesman status does not seem to be impeding his play, it does make him more aware of others who are climbing the ladder. Eli Manning, for example, who is next in line behind Brees for starts at quarterback (184) among active players.
“I obviously have a lot of respect for Eli and what he’s been able to accomplish,” Brees said. “He’s still going at it just like I am.”
SOUND OF VICTOR-Y
Victor Cruz was surprised at how loud it was. He was on the road in Dallas for his first game back from knee and calf injuries last week, but he could still hear it pretty clearly. It started with a low rumble after his first catch, escalated when he caught an inside route for a first down, and reached a crescendo on his touchdown grab.
It was the once-familiar “Cruuuuz!” call.
“It was loud and continuous and it’s just humbling, man,” Cruz said. “Especially in Dallas. Maybe you expect it, but not as loud.”
This week, though, he’ll be better prepared. He’ll be playing against the Saints at MetLife Stadium, just a few miles from where he grew up, in front of Giants fans who have (mostly) supported him through his injuries. They will undoubtedly be at full throat whenever Cruz touches the football today.
“Obviously being home for the first time in front of the fans, being back here, suiting up and playing for the first time in a regular season game, it’s definitely going to be some more jitters and more nerves,” he said. “But it should be another emotional homecoming this week.”
HERE’S THE LESSON PLAN
Ben McAdoo described the Saints’ secondary as being full of “gritty young corners” and “young, scrappy guys.” It’s the young part that has the Giants believing they’ll be able to put up some big numbers in this game. Top cornerback Delvin Breaux is injured so the top three pass defenders on the team all are playing in just their second NFL game this week: Last year’s third-round pick P.J. Williams who missed the 2015 season with a hamstring injury along with undrafted rookies De’Vante Harris and Ken Crawley.
“They’re learning on the job right now,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
The Giants are hoping to provide them their next lesson.
“We like our receivers and we feel that we match up very well there,” McAdoo said, adding that the Giants do “need to respect them.” That message seems to have gotten through.
“If you’re inexperienced and someone else has more experience, they may be in favor,” Odell Beckham Jr. said. “It’s all about making plays. At the end of the day, if it was a 10-year receiver going against a rookie cornerback, it doesn’t matter if he’s out there making plays. It’s just about who wants it more.”
THIS BAR WAS SET PRETTY LOW
If the Giants win today, Ben McAdoo will join Dan Reeves (1993) and Joe Alexander (1926) as the only head coaches in franchise history to win their first two games. Reeves went 3-0 to begin his tenure, the hottest start of any Giants coach in history.
Number of passes Drew Brees has thrown since Dec. 6, 2015, without an interception. It is the longest current streak in the NFL. His career-best streak was 232 passes without an interception in 2011.
CRADLE OF COACHES
For the second week in a row the Giants are facing a head coach with roots in the organization. Last week it was former backup quarterback Jason Garrett, and this week it’s Garrett’s old offensive coordinator with the team, Sean Payton. Payton was an assistant with the Giants from 1999-2002.
“There are a lot of great memories, a lot of great people there at that organization,” Payton said. “As a young coach, I was very fortunate to have that opportunity and to this day it’s helped mold my thinking and how you approach things and people.”
Despite being with the Saints for a decade, Payton has never coached the team against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. He has faced the Jets here, was suspended when the Saints played the Giants here in 2012, and last coached against the Giants on the road in 2006 when they played at Giants Stadium.
Eli Manning needs three TD passes to become just the eighth QB in NFL history to reach 300 in his career. Everyone else in that club who is eligible for the Hall of Fame is in it. Here’s a look at the top eight TD throwers in NFL history:
Peyton Manning // 539
Brett Favre // 508
Drew Brees // 432
Tom Brady // 428
Dan Marino // 420
Fran Tarkenton // 342
John Elway // 300
Eli Manning // 297
Manning also needs just 218 passing yards to move into the top 10 on that all-time list. Drew Brees, meanwhile, needs just 36 passing yards to move into third place all-time. Here’s a look at the top 11 QBs on the career passing list:
Peyton Manning // 71,940
Brett Favre // 71,838
Dan Marino // 61,361
Drew Brees // 61,326
Tom Brady // 58,028
John Elway // 51,475
Warren Moon // 49,325
Fran Tarkenton // 47,003
Vinny Testaverde // 46,233
Drew Bledsoe // 44,611
Eli Manning // 44,394