- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Drew Brees was clearly uncomfortable with the New York Jets' defense Sunday. During the first quarter, the Saints' offense used up all three timeouts and was called for two delay-of-game penalties. One penalty came directly after a timeout. More telling, the veteran quarterback threw two interceptions and at least two more balls that were ripe for the picking.
“I look to the start of the game,” Brees said. “We had to use a timeout early, the delay of game, the lack of tempo and rhythm. It just took a little while.”
It actually never really arrived. The Jets decisively won the game 26-20, and on the Saints’ last drive -- a two-minute drill that would have won the game, and the type of moment Brees excels at mastering -- the defense clamped down.
“The guy’s sick, he makes great throws,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “I will say this, was I confident in our guys? Absolutely, absolutely I was confident in our guys to get it done. But a little nervous? Yes.”
The Jets' defense pushed Brees back to a fourth down at the Saints’ 10-yard line. On that last-ditch attempt, Jets linebacker Quinton Coples got to the quarterback.
“We knew he was having trouble seeing over the line,” defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson said. “It showed. It seemed like the first couple of series he was looking over the offensive line. Then [Muhammad Wilkerson], Q, those guys just kept getting back there. I got back there a few times, but we all put our work in today.”
Coples also got to Brees on another big fourth down play, an end-around attempt with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter.
“I was thinking he was going to put it away and throw the ball,” Coples said. “But when he handed it off my eyes just got big because I knew I was going to run right through him.”
To be fair, the Saints lost leading running back Darren Sproles on the first offensive series of the game to a concussion. It put a wrench into the team’s game plan.
But the Jets took advantage after a poor showing the week before in Cincinnati. DeMario Davis and Antonio Cromartie got interceptions, and the Jets converted both those takeaways into points. Wilkerson and Calvin Pace were each credited with a sack.
“We knew we had to bounce back from last week,” Wilkerson said. “Ready to get going for this game.”