Why Drew Brees' TD to Brandin Cooks was so impressive and important

METAIRIE, La. -- It got lost in the shuffle a bit since it was one of 13 touchdown passes last Sunday. But Drew Brees' 21-yard TD toss to Brandin Cooks in the third quarter of the New Orleans Saints' 52-49 victory over the New York Giants was one of the most impressive and important plays of the season.

Why so impressive: Because of its accuracy. Brees took a three-step drop, then let the ball fly to a spot just short of the goal line even though Cooks seemed well covered by Giants cornerback Trumaine McBride, with help nearby from fellow corner Jayron Hosley. The ball dropped in just over Cooks’ head and shoulders as he looked back and caught it in stride.

ESPN showed a Sport Science segment on SportsCenter this week pointing out that Brees landed the ball inside of a target area twice the size of a basketball hoop --– while throwing from a distance 10 feet farther than the length of a full NBA court.

Why so important: Because of the rhythm it displayed between Brees and his second-year receiver, who is expected to develop into the Saints’ top playmaker this season and well into the future.

The two have always had a nice rapport on and off the field, with Cooks spending part of the offseason training with Brees in San Diego. But the duo is still a work in progress -- particularly since defenses have often devoted their top cornerbacks or double-teams to Cooks.

Brees singled out that play when describing his growing comfort level with young Saints receivers such as Cooks and Willie Snead.

“Obviously there’s a lot of trust and confidence and anticipation just to put that ball there and then have him run under it,” Brees said. “The corner’s falling off, and his guy is rallying from another direction, so there’s kind of one place to put that ball. And [Cooks] knows where it’s gonna be and he knows he has to get there. It wasn’t the primo look [the Saints wanted from the defense]. But that’s just one of those trust, feel, confidence things where he had it, I had it. And it looks good when it works out like that.”