After being held without a touchdown pass in their first meeting two weeks ago, the last thing Saints quarterback Drew Brees needed was extra motivation to want to beat the Buccaneers this week.
He’s got it now, though.
In case you haven’t heard, Brees was not among the quarterbacks selected to play in the 2017 Pro Bowl, this despite the fact he leads the NFL in passing, having thrown for 4,559 yards.
Brees also ranks first in the league in completed passes (419), second in the league in completion percentage (71.1) and fourth in the league in passer rating (103.0).
Not good enough, Pro Bowl voters said.
They picked Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and rookie Dak Prescott in the NFC, and Tom Brady, Derek Carr and Ben Roethlisberger for the AFC. And while Brees has taken the high road publicly, saying the snub he’s “not concerned’’ about the snub, that may not be the case privately.
Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks was asked about the snub during a chat with Bucs reporters on Wednesday and to hear him tell it, Brees is treating this in much the same way Brady treated his suspension for deflating footballs.
Brady was said to be seething privately over the suspension and vowing to return to game better than ever, which he seemingly has. Now it seems Brees may be using his snub as motivation to prove a Pro Bowl nod should have come his way.
“The guy is just great and definitely deserves to be in there,’’ Cooks said. “And for him not to be, well, the league or whoever it was just messed up because that just added fuel to his fire that he already had.’’
Just what the Bucs need with their playoff chances hanging in the balance. Of course, it’s not like the Bucs weren’t expecting to see a different, more motivated Brees anyway.
“You can tell Drew was (upset) from the week before because he went out and did what Drew does (last week, completing 37 of 48 passes for 489 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-41 win over Arizona), which is bounce back and he had had one of (those) incredible games,’’ Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “So, I can only imagine he can’t wait to play us again. I just know (because) I know him, I’ve been around him. So I’m mentally preparing for the Drew we’re about to get. It’s going to be a tough one.”