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Hard Work Pays Off for Brees


Did anyone turn in a more clutch performance in Week 1 than Chargers quarterback Drew Brees? With rookie first-round draft pick Philip Rivers looking over his shoulder, Brees completed 17 of 24 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns in a 27--20 road upset of the Texans. "I worked tirelessly in the off-season to get to this point," said Brees, now in his fourth season.... The usually slow-starting Curtis Martin ran for 196 yards in the Jets' 31--24 win over the Bengals. Here's why Martin, who had 197 rushing yards in his first four games combined in 2003, could be on his way to the best season of his 10-year career: Quarterback Chad Pennington, with his marvelous accuracy, will attract most of the attention from defenses. Martin needs 209 yards to move into 10th place on the NFL career rushing list.... Who knows how much running back Marshall Faulk and wideout Isaac Bruce of the Rams have left in their tanks at 31, but the two veterans teamed for 257 total yards in St. Louis's 17--10 win over Arizona.... Quarterback Kurt Warner started his career with a 40--9 record, but after his Giants debut, a 31--17 loss to the Eagles, he's winless in eight starts since.... "We've finally got a defense that fits us," Washington cornerback Fred Smoot said after the aggressive, blitzing Redskins held the Bucs to 30 yards rushing and 169 total yards in a 16--10 victory. Defensive players love to be cut loose, and that's what new coordinator Gregg Williams has done.