New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees owns another NFL passing record.
Brees’ touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith with 6:11 left in the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night was his 539th career touchdown pass, tying Peyton Manning for the most in league history. Brees also passed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with that pass; Brady finished his game on Sunday with 538 career touchdown passes.
The record-breaking 540th pass came with 7:08 left in the third quarter. Brees hit tight end Josh Hill all alone in the end zone for a 5-yard score. Brees got the ball, took off his helmet, pointed to the crowd and blew kisses. It was fitting it happened at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. No quarterback has ever thrown more touchdowns at one venue than Brees has at the Superdome.
Brees came into the game one touchdown behind Brady and two behind Manning. He tied Brady for second place on the all-time list on a touchdown pass to Michael Thomas early in the second quarter. When Brees set the career record for all-time passing yards in 2018, also surpassing Manning for that mark, Smith caught the record-setting pass on a long touchdown. Smith’s 21-yard score over the middle against the Colts on Monday made some more history.
Smith almost had the record-breaker too, but his second touchdown was wiped off the board due to an offensive pass interference call in the final seconds of the first half. Brees and the Saints started to celebrate, but the play came back and Saints fans yelled at the officials. The celebration would have to wait. But not much longer.
Several major records broken
This is just the latest major passing record Brees holds. In October 2018, he passed Manning for the all-time yardage record, also in a “Monday Night Football” game. Brees likes big moments on the prime-time stage. He also set an NFL single-season passing yardage record in 2011 on “MNF” and a record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass on “Sunday Night Football” in 2012. Brees is also tops in NFL history for completions (6,792 before Monday night) and career completion percentage (67.5 before Monday night).
Brett Favre retired for the final time in 2010 with 508 touchdowns; he was the first quarterback ever with more than 500 TDs. Dan Marino had 420 and Favre blew past his record. Manning passed them both, retiring with 539 in 2015.
Brees’ start against the Colts is the 273rd regular-season game and 272nd start of Brees’ career, which began with the San Diego Chargers in 2001. He now has thrown two or more touchdowns in a game on 163 occasions, with 69 different players on the receiving end of those scores. Marques Colston has the most, with 72, and 16 players caught only one.
Brady moved quickly from third to first on the all-time list Sunday. Brady has 538 touchdowns after two in Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, falling just short of at least tying Manning.
This has been a down year by Brady’s standards, and he has only 21 touchdowns through 14 games. His lowest total in 16 starts came in 2003, when he had 23. Considering Brady and Brees haven’t said anything about retirement, it’s possible the record for passing touchdowns could be passed back and forth a few times before those two are done.
The NFL’s most celebrated records are for the regular season. But including playoffs, Brady has 611 touchdown passes to 579 for Manning and 573 for Brees after his third touchdown Monday.
All three played at the same time for years, offering football fans quite a show of high-quality play week after week.
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