12/15 15:25 CST Saints QB Brees chasing NFL history again in prime time
Saints QB Brees chasing NFL history again in prime time
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) --- Drew Brees has a knack for making history when the only
NFL game to watch is being played inside the Superdome.
There was the Sunday night in 2012 when Brees' 40-yard pass to Devery Henderson
gave him touchdown passes in 48 straight games, eclipsing a mark set by Hall of
Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas half a century earlier. That streak finally
ended at 54 games --- a mark which still stands.
Six years later, on a Monday night in the dome, Brees broke Peyton Manning's
previous career record of 71,940 yards passing in even more spectacular
fashion: a 62-yard touchdown pass to then-rookie Tre'Quan Smith.
Brees entered this weekend three touchdowns shy of breaking Manning's career
touchdowns passing record of 539 as the Saints prepared to host one of
Manning's former teams, the Indianapolis Colts, on Monday night.
New England's Tom Brady, with two touchdowns Sunday at Cincinnati, increased
his career total to 538, one ahead of Brees.
Brees said he was more focused on winning and refining an offense that scored
46 points --- albeit in a narrow loss --- against San Francisco's highly rated
defense a week earlier.
"Obviously, before the season you know you are a certain distance away, but
then once the season starts, you just focus on winning games and doing what I
need to do as a quarterback of this team to put us in the best position to
succeed," Brees said. "With that, I guess the statistics come, and maybe they
add up, and then all of a sudden, you're close enough to be within striking
distance of some of those things."
For Brees, three touchdowns is striking distance. He had five against the 49ers
in Week 14 --- one of 90 career regular-season games in which he's had at least
three TDs in his 19-year career.
The enduring success of the 40-year-old Brees, who now has 76,577 career yards
passing, is "great for the game, " said Colts coach Frank Reich, who played QB
in the NFL for 13 years.
"I don't always like going up against it," Reich added. "I just think that he
has really set the standard as far as accuracy. I don't know Drew at all, but I
just know a lot of people that do know him. His work ethic, I think that is why
he is still playing at a high level at this age."
To Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Brees' longevity has become an
element of what makes him so hard to scheme against. Eberflus figures that
whatever coverage any team throws at the Saints, Brees has "definitely seen
it," and possesses the precision to attack it.
"There is no doubt," Eberflus said. "He's an elite player at his position and
he's been that way because of his timing and his accuracy."
Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who played in the Big Ten for Wisconsin, in
his home state, was a few months short of turning 7 at the end of the 2000
college season, when Brees was a Heisman Trophy finalist and leading Purdue to
the second of just two Rose Bowls in school history.
Around 17 years later, Ramczyk was a rookie at Saints practice, botching
protections to the point that Brees was evidently irate. But Brees wasn't going
to let his frustrated outburst become the rookie lineman's enduring memory from
"I'm trying to figure all this stuff out, a ton of pressure," Ramzcyk recalled.
"After practice, he came up to me. ... He was there for me. He said, ?If you
have any questions, come to me. Let me know.'
"It was so genuine, so sincere, I was like, 'OK, this guy's got my back. He's
looking out for us,'" Ramczyk added. "It's a great connection that he has with
not only the (offensive) line but everyone on this team. We all trust him 100
percent and he has a ton of trust in us."
Now in his third NFL season, Ramczyk was able to celebrate Brees' yards passing
record with him in 2018 and hopes to do the same soon for the all-time
touchdowns mark, be it this week or later.
"This is a guy that I was watching growing up," Ramczyk said. "To be on his
team is a pretty awesome thing."
Same goes for Smith, who caught Brees' last touchdown pass last week and could
very well be the target of the record breaker, only one season after his
memorable TD catch on a long pass down the right sideline gave Brees the
"That would be crazy if that happens," a grinning Smith said.
"As a second-year player here, it's wonderful to be around somebody who is just
so great in everything they do and so precise, and being alongside of him
helping him break records," Smith said. "I feel honored just to be in his
presence. Just a great guy in general. I'm just trying to take it in. I'm still
in awe. I'm just here for the ride and having fun while doing it."
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