Last season, Drew Brees hit a slump in December. He was approaching his 40th birthday. It was fair to wonder if that was a sign he was finally slipping.
Brees is 40 now and getting better as this season wears on. Monday night will be remembered for Brees setting the all-time passing touchdown record, passing Peyton Manning with his 540th touchdown pass. History will also show that Brees didn’t stagger across the finish line in his chase of the touchdown record. He had one of the best games of his storied career on Monday night.
In terms of completion percentage, Brees had the greatest game in NFL history. He completed 22 straight passes to end the game and finished 29-of-30, breaking old Chargers teammate Philip Rivers’ single-game completion percentage record. Rivers finished 28-of-29 against the Cardinals last season. One of the many records Brees holds is career completion percentage and it’s fitting he now has the single-game record too, at 96.7 percent.
Brees’ big night led a 34-7 blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts, and the Saints improved to 11-3. They’re still in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The records are great and each one adds to Brees’ legacy. So would a second Super Bowl ring, and the Saints are right in the mix for that.
Drew Brees through his NFL career
Drew Brees through his NFL career
Charger rookie quarterback and first round draft pick Drew Brees watches the action from the sidelines during the season opener against the Redskins in San Diego on Sept.9, 2001. The Chargers won 30ï¿½3. (Photo by Vince Compagnone/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
7 NOV 2002: San Diego Chargers Drew Brees during a game against San Francisco 49ers at the Qualcomm Stadium Sunday November 7, 2002, in San Diego, CA. (Photo by Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
28 Sept 2003: Drew Brees of the San Diego Chargers during Chargers 34-31 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, CA. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban (R) sacks San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees as the snow falls during the first quarter of NFL action in Cleveland, Ohio December 19, 2004. REUTERS/Ron Schwane RS/GN
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 24: Jimmy Wilkerson #96 of the Kansas City Chiefs reaches for Drew Brees #9 of the San Diego Chargers as he runs the ball in the first half of the game on December 24, 2005 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Larry W. Smith/Getty Images)
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees during the first half of the Saints 23-3 win over Atlanta Monday, September 25, 2006, at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees accepts the NFL Player of the Year award in Miami, Florida January 31, 2007. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson (19) and quarterback Drew Brees celebrate after defeating Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-20 in their NFL football game in New Orleans September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES)
New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees celebrates his team's overtime win against the Washington Redskins in Landover, MD, December 6, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton applauds as quarterback Drew Brees holds up the Vince Lombardi trophy after defeating the Indianapolis Colts to win the NFL's Super Bowl XLIV football game in Miami, Florida in this February 7, 2010 file photo. Proposals to extend the National Football League (NFL) season by two games have not been thought through and could lead to more injuries and curtailed careers, say players. Picture taken February 7, 2010. To match Feature NFL-SCHEDULE. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
BALTIMORE - DECEMBER 19: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints looks on from the sidelines against the Baltimore Ravens on December 19, 2010 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.The Ravens defeated the Saints 30 to 24. (Photo by: Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is lifted by guard Carl Nicks (77) after setting a new NFL single season passing record of 5087 yards, surpassing Dan Marino's 5084 yards, with a touchdown pass to Darren Sproles against the Atlanta Falcons during their NFL football game in New Orleans, Louisiana December 26, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) gets away from Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher (97) in the first quarter at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, December 23, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 22: Greg Hardy #76 of the Carolina Panthers goes after Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints during their game at Bank against the Carolina Panthers of America Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Sep 28, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) runs with the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) reacts after throwing his seventh touchdown pass of the game during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Giants 52-49. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 29, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; NFC quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (9) passes against the AFC during the second half of the 2017 Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 07: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after throwing a touchdown pass against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Drew Brees has a magical night
It looked early on like Brees would have a good chance to pass Manning. He needed three touchdowns to set the record and he was sharp from the opening kickoff.
Brees was spreading the ball around and could complete one to Michael Thomas whenever he wanted. Thomas continued his own record march, for the single-season completion record. Thomas had nine catches and a touchdown in the first half. He finished with 12 catches for 128 yards. Brees was rolling, and when he hit Josh Hill for a five-yard touchdown and the all-time passing record early in the third quarter, the game was over.
The offense was unstoppable, and the defense rebounded from a tough day against the 49ers in Week 14. Indianapolis’ offense got nothing going all night. It was a rout. The Saints didn’t even punt until the fourth quarter, when they led 34-0. Brees finished with 307 yards. The Colts got a meaningless touchdown with 3:56 left to ruin the Saints’ shutout bid. That’s about the only bad thing that happened to New Orleans all night.
It was a reminder that the Saints are as good as any team in the NFL. And that Brees, even in his 40s, is still one of the best in the game.
Brees has been great since injury
Brees missed five games after thumb surgery this season. There was a question about how that injury would affect him, especially at age 40. It hasn’t at all.
Brees has 19 touchdowns and two interceptions since returning. He has nine touchdowns and no interceptions in the Saints’ last two games, including a five-touchdown game against a very good 49ers defense. Had Brees not missed time he’d be in the conversation for MVP, or at least in the conversation of who will finish second behind Lamar Jackson.
When Manning won a Super Bowl in 2015, he struggled badly in his final season. Age and injuries caught up to him, and that’s normal. Denver’s historic defense was responsible for that title.
If the Saints win another Super Bowl this season, they won’t be carrying Brees along for the ride. As Brees threw his 541st touchdown in his 19th season, he somehow looked better than ever.