Pats-Saints clash of ag­ing stars

Brady, Brees look to bounce back from Week 1 losses

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - SPORTS - By Brett Mar­tel

NEW OR­LEANS » Brady, Brees and Bono. How’s that for a mid­dle-aged power trio?

When New Eng­land quar­ter­back Tom Brady and his pro­lific New Or­leans coun­ter­part, Drew Brees, take the Su­per­dome field on Sun­day, it’ll be just days af­ter U2’s con­cert there. Seems fit­ting, given the as­so­ci­a­tion the Ir­ish rock­ers had with sem­i­nal mo­ments for both fran­chises in that same sta­dium.

U2 played when the ren­o­vated Su­per­dome re­opened a year af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina for the Saints’ tri­umphant 2006 home opener . They also played half­time of Brady and the Pa­tri­ots’ maiden Su­per Bowl vic­tory in the Big Easy in 2002.

For many foot­ball fans in New Or­leans, U2’s lat­est Su­per­dome show could be viewed as an apt pre­lude to a game fea­tur­ing two quar­ter­backs who are not only among the most ac­com­plished in NFL his­tory, but who also can ac­tu­ally re­mem­ber when “The Joshua Tree” al­bum came out in 1987.

Mean­while, Brady, 40, and Brees, 38, come in highly mo­ti­vated to help their clubs re­cover from Week 1 losses.

“It is very im­por­tant. It is our home opener and we want to get every­body back on track,” Brees said. “Ob­vi­ously there’s a lot of things to cor­rect.”

Sim­i­larly, Brady noted that the Pa­tri­ots “played very poorly in the fourth quar­ter” of a sea­son-open­ing loss to Kansas City.

This week, they must “be the kind of play­ers that our team­mates can de­pend on and try to go get a win at a very tough place to play,” Brady said.

Be­tween them, Brady and Brees have com­bined for stag­ger­ing pass­ing num­bers: 128,251 yards and 922 TDs. Brees stands third in NFL his­tory with 66,402 yards and 466 TDs, and Brady fourth with 61,849 yards and 456 TDs. Brady’s 208 ca­reer wins as a starter, in­clud­ing play­offs, rank first in NFL his­tory.

They also hope their ca­reers are nowhere near over, par­tic­u­larly af­ter last sea­son, when Brees led the NFL in yards pass­ing, while Brady led the Pa­tri­ots to a fifth Su­per Bowl ti­tle.

“I’d say we prob­a­bly both have the mind­set that we want to change the norm of what is pos­si­ble in re­gards to how long a guy can play and the level that they can play at,” Brees said.

MU­TUAL AD­MI­RA­TION: Brees said he’s ad­mired Brady ever since he first played against him in col­lege be­fore the turn of the cen­tury — a 1999 vic­tory for Brady’s Michi­gan over Brees’ Pur­due.

Brees re­called how Brady, then a se­nior, had to share snaps with Drew Hen­son in the mid­sea­son game.

“Stand­ing on the side­line across from him, to me, it was ob­vi­ously Brady’s team and he had to share time with this fresh­man,” Brees re­called. “And yet, his ap­proach and his dis­ci­pline dur­ing that time — he played at such a high level, but he just wor­ried about what he con­trolled . ... By the end of the sea­son, they just flat out gave the start­ing spot to Brady and they played lights out.

“That prob­a­bly shaped and molded a lot about him — a lit­tle bit of a chip on his shoul­der which has ob­vi­ously served him well, a men­tal dis­ci­pline and a men­tal tough­ness that’s un­matched.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady, left, greets Saints quar­ter­back Drew Brees af­ter a pre­sea­son game.

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