Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD — The Minnesota Vikings were called for roughing after Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (24) and Minnesota Vikings strong safety Robert Blanton (36) sacked New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees didn’t know who suplexed him pro wrestling-style during his team’s 20-9 victory against the Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday. When he got up and went after Vikings cornerback Robert Blanton, it’s because that was the first player Brees saw, the quarterback said after the game, which improved the Saints’ 2014 record to 1-2.
Brees later realized it was Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn who got flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for slamming the Saints quarterback into the turf on what would’ve been a sack on a third-and-15 during the final play of the third quarter. Brees said he subsequently marched over to Munnerlyn (a former member of the NFC South rival Carolina Panthers), calmly told him, “Listen, I like you. I think you’re a good football player. I appreciate the 15 yards.”
The Saints QB then huddled up with his teammates and said, “All right, fellas. We got to stick it to ‘em.”
And stick it to them the Saints did.
On the next two drives, Brees (27-of-35 for 293 yards and two touchdowns) threw his second score of the day to help put New Orleans up 20-9 with 12:22 to go in the game. The next time the Saints touched the ball, they converted five first downs to drain the final 6:58 of the contest off the clock.
Prior to the most-talked about sequence of Sunday’s Saints game, the Saints had scored two touchdowns on their first two possessions to take a 13-0 lead. The Saints punted the ball on each of their following four possessions, gaining a paltry 56 yards on those advances.
The Saints were about to punt again at the end of the third quarter from their 32 after Brees was corralled seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. But Munnerlyn capped the play off by wrapping his arms around Brees’ waist, lifting the Saints quarterback and then falling backwards with him. Munnerlyn slammed Brees down, and Blanton jumped atop both his teammate and the opposing signal-caller.
Brees leapt to his feet, shoved Blanton in the back and went after him before things settled down and the Saints put the game away. Brees said he believed the penalty re-focused the offense.
“It just sometimes helps you lock in and … just creates a little fire,” Brees said of plays such as the roughing penalty. “And listen, whatever it takes.”
Munnerlyn told reporters afterward that he hadn’t heard the whistle blow and was simply doing his best to get Brees to the ground.
“I was just letting him know I’m not a dirty player,” said Munnerlyn, who was with Carolina from 2009-13 and has faced the Saints 11 times. “I just play this game with a lot of passion.”
The 5-foot-9 cornerback added, “Me watching Drew Brees on film, you can have him wrapped up sometimes; and he still throws balls away. I just tried to wrap his arms up. I’m not a tall guy, so I just tried to wrap his arms up and tried to throw him to the ground. I didn’t try to body slam him or nothing like that. I was just letting him know.
“He was like ‘I know you’re not a dirty player. I’ve played against you a lot of times.’ I just talked to him about the play and let him know that I’m not that type of guy.”
Munnerlyn said he expected to be fined and to appeal any levy that may be imposed on him.
Multiple observers couldn’t resist noting that the Superdome had hosted the event Wrestlemania XXX in April.
Advocate correspondent Brian Allee-Walsh contributed to this report.