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Jonathan Vilma: Never Doubted Drew Brees Would Overcome Pick Six In Dramatic Win

Former Miami Hurricane Jonathan Vilma said he never doubted a forceful Brees would come blowing through the Georgia Dome before the night was over.

After Saints QB Drew Brees threw an uncharacteristic, careless, Brett Favre-like interception early in the fourth quarter that shifted momentum and gave the Atlanta Falcons a 14-10 lead, Vilma said he never doubted his unflappable quarterback's abilty to make a dramatic comeback.

With 14:14 remaining in the game and the Saints leading the Falcons 14-10, Brees, attempting to avoid a sack and make a play, flipped the ball into the waiting arms of Atlanta's Chauncey Davis who promptly returned it 26 yards for a touchdown.

"There was so much time left in the game," Vilma told ESPN. "We were just thinking about getting the ball back to Drew.

"Drew is an elite quarterback. He's one of the top three or four quarterbacks in the league. So, if he has one bad play...so what?

"Let's just move on from it. We know that he will get us a touchdown which he did," Vilma told the national television audience. "[Brees] had a great drive for us and ended up closing out the game for us with his play. So, we don't worry about plays like that."

The brainy and articulate Vilma, who quarterbacks Gregg Williams' intricate and aggressive defense, spearheaded a Saints unit that limited the Falcons to 75 net rushing yards—a far cry from the 200-plus yards Atlanta gained on the ground in a late September victory against New Orleans in the Superdome.

Getting the ball back to the offense and Brees was the familiar refrain in Vilma's answers to the national media's questions late Monday night.

"We felt like if we could get off the field that we could eliminate of the runs, a lot of the rushes from Michael Turner and a lot of the passes, the extra-extended plays, things like that." Vilma told ESPN. "And, the best thing was to give our offense the ball. That was the best thing."

When asked by ESPN's Steve Young why the Saints have not created as many turnovers as one year ago, Vilma said, "We practice it a lot. Practice in and practice out. We need to be more conscious of getting the ball, making plays on the ball, getting the turnovers and getting the offense the ball back.

"We understand that's our formula," said Vilma. "Get turnovers. Get our offense the ball back and let them score. If we do that, we'll win."

The victory clinched a second consecutive playoff berth for the Saints, who still have a very slim chance of earning the top-seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. That would require a Saints win over Tampa Bay and an Atlanta loss to Carolina.

Ninety-degree temperatures in Philly are more likely than a Panthers upset of these Dirty Birds.

As a result, the Saints will have to go on the road at some point if they are to successfully defend their Super Bowl championship.

The Saints are extremely good in rude environments.

"I think we understand that we're in a hostile environment. The only people you have are your teammates," said Vilma as he described the key to Saints away-from-home success.

"Second thing is execution. You have to rely on your technique. You have to rely on executing the plays, executing the defense, so you can win games like this against the best team in the NFC on the road."

As far as the strong possibility the Saints will enter the playoffs as a wild card, Vilma told ESPN, "Doesn't matter. We're in the dance. It doesn't matter."

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