Watch your Saints players and coaches in action at the 2018 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, Jan. 28.
Orlando – The New Orleans Saints finished 1-1 on Pro Bowl Sunday at Camping World Stadium.
The seven teammates and coaching staff represented the NFC team that lost the NFL's all-star game, a 24-23 decision to the AFC, with Oakland quarterback Derek Carr and Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker connecting on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 91 seconds left to provide the winning score.
But, without question, they won over America's heart – or, perhaps more specifically, Baylen, Bowen and Callen Brees, the sons of quarterback Drew Brees, clinched that victory.
After Brees played the first two series and led the NFC to its only offensive touchdown – his eight-yard scoring pass to Vikings receiver Adam Thielen with 7:50 left in the first quarter – and a 7-0 lead, Brees brought down his sons from the stands to the sideline to enjoy the experience.
And during Baylen's sideline interview with ESPN (all three served as ball boys during the week), the Brees boys erupted into a Pro Bowl Rumble that only lacked promotional hype and a ring.
With Bowen and Callen getting after it in the background, Baylen and Brees conducted the interview in the foreground and as soon as Baylen's portion was finished, he joined the fray. Arguably, it was the most entertaining part of the day and, possibly, the most physical.
"That was the game within the game," Brees said, with a wide smile. "The boys were just, that was like a WWE wrestling match on the sideline. They had more chalk all over them and pellets in their face and hair. They hit the ground more times than, I think, everybody did out there combined."
Brees said his wife, Brittany, had the boys until his playing time was over, after which he brought them to the field.
"By that time it was pouring down rain, so they came down with ponchos and then (the rain) was off and on throughout the game," Brees said. "But they loved it. They loved every second of it.
"That's made the week. It's awesome being with the guys in the locker room but just to have them be a part of everything, from every practice, to every rep, to the game. They had such a good time. They know all these players and that's the crazy thing. They see a guy walk by and it's, 'Hey, that's (Jacksonville cornerback) Jalen Ramsey, that's so-and-so.' It's crazy just to see what big fans they are and how they truly know the players."
As for the game outside the game, Brees completed seven of nine passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Mark Ingram II ran for 21 yards on five carries, Alvin Kamara ran for 13 yards on four carries and caught four passes for 36 yards, Michael Thomas caught a pass for six yards, Marshon Lattimore had a pass defensed and two tackles, Cam Jordan had a tackle and Larry Warford took snaps at left guard.
The loss grated on Ingram.
"We had 'em all game," he said. "And we just…last three minutes, right? It hurts, man, a little bit. We still had a great time, didn't finish and that's unfortunate."
He said having teammates and family with him to share the week made it special. But…
"Our bags are just a little bit lighter," he said. "The bag is just a little bit lighter. When stuff is at stake (members of the winning team pocked $67,000 each, while losing team members received $34,000), I could be playing a board game, checkers or spades, if you whip me, I'm hurting. I'm sad."
And memories of the loss to the Vikings in the NFC Divisional playoff game – 29-24, on the last play of the game – still lingered. At least, at the beginning of the week.
"When you talk about the ability to send seven guys to a Pro Bowl, it sounds awesome," Jordan said. "But then you realize you were two weeks away from the Super Bowl. It took probably the first couple of days, just being with the family – doing Sea World, doing Disney World, Universal Studios – taking in that family aspect, to sort of finally get over the way we lost in the playoffs."
Once that feeling subsided, the Saints were able to enjoy the week for what it was.
"It was a cool week," Kamara said. "A lot of fun being out here with a lot of great guys, a lot of great players and coaches, family out here. Just having a good time so it was a great experience.
"Hopefully, we can keep doing it. I feel like we're coming back even stronger next year, so hopefully we'll end up in the same spot if we're not playing in the big game. But that's where we want to go."