It was a game that had all the makings of an upset. For the first half.
The upstart Detroit Lions hung around for 30 minutes and made a game of the first-round playoff contest with the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees and then, in standard fashion, Brees took apart the younger, less-experienced Lions defense and ran away with a 45-28 victory last night.
The win proved Brees is the best at what he does and has many reasons for staking that claim.
These are the reasons why Brees is the best at what he does, whether it is the regular season or the playoffs.
On many occasions last night I watched Brees take the ball from center and back peddle with the ball toward his chest, start to move into his throwing motion and then release the ball as he stopped, planted and threw it.
It was a quicker motion than most. It also was something that looked a bit difficult. If Brees is setting into his throwing motion while in his stride, it gives him a better chance of hitting a receiver in a pass pattern earlier and that means defensive backs have not been able to lock in on coverage quick enough.
How would you like to come to work every day with Margues Colston, Lance Moore (who did not play last night because of injury), Devery Henderson and Robert Meacham?
And when you have exhausted all of those options, you look to tight end Jimmy Graham.
In this case, the rich just seem to get richer and when Brees has all those targets to choose from, he cannot help but find the right one in the right spot on the field.
Brees cannot make those kinds of plays without a line in front of him blocking like they do.
Jahari Evans and Carl Nicks may be the best guards in the game. Add Charles Brown and Jermon Buishrod at tackle and Matt Tennant at center and the unit is solid.
Brees could not have passed for 5,476 yards this season without some solid blocking up front. One of the first pictures after Brees shattered Dan Marino's record of 5,084 yards was taken with the five guys who had his back and body all season.
The best players in the NFL shine because they are good each week. The fact New Orleans was the third seed in the NFC proved the conference was tough. Brees seems to rise above all that, play his game and let the game come to him.
That was so evident last night. The Saints were in a dog fight for the first half of the game, but as the veteran passer played his game, the Lions struggled in the second half.
Could you honestly see him in any other city with any other team?
Now seeing him there in the city, embraced by the fans and the community, there may not be a better fit in the NFL (sorry Tom Brady, sorry Aaron Rodgers).
When a player is so embraced by a fanbase, they tend to deliver their best for the people that support them the most.
The first thing Brees does is deflect all the attention away from himself. When he broke the passing record, he gave all the credit to his team and his coaching staff.
Brees looks like this quiet guy who doesn't belong on a football field. He is so unassuming. But on the field, you see an intensity that in contagious.
He leads by example and his teammates come up huge when they have to.
This isn't like a scene from The Replacements when Shane Falco asks for the ball in the closing moments.
But, in dramatic form, the best passers want the ball when the game is on the line. Brees is that person.
Marino was great, but did not have the talent around him like Brees. Aaron Rodgers lived in Brett Favre's shadow before being given the chance. Tom Brady does it with smoke and mirrors. Mathew Stafford and Cam Newton aren't quite there yet.
Brees is the one you want with the ball in his hand when the game is on the line.