Brees Breaks Peyt's Career TD Mark

541.

Jim Rome
December 17, 2019 - 10:14 am
Drew Brees

USA Today

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For some reason, it’s become easy to take Drew Brees for granted. And I understand it. He’s so good and so consistent, that you just expect it. But last night was a reminder that when you are watching Drew Brees, you are watching greatness.

And last night’s 34-7 dissection of the Colts was one of his greatest performances ever. And one of the greatest the game’s ever seen. 

Monday Night, against the Colts, the team he beat in the Super Bowl ten years ago. With his teammates from the Super Bowl team in the building. And Brees absolutely lit it up.

Everyone came into the game knowing that Brees had a chance to break Peyton Manning’s career record for touchdown passes, which he did.

Here’s 541.

Everyone knew Brees was going to break the career record for touchdown passes last night. But along the way, he also broke the league record for completion percentage in a single game.

29 of 30 for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Think about that. On the same night that he threw his 540th and 541st career touchdown passes, he also had the highest single-game completion percentage in NFL history.

In other words, he’s not slowing down. He’s not stumbling over the line and barely getting to 540. He’s as good as he’s ever been, which is something you couldn’t say for Peyton Manning when he was chucking wounded ducks around in Denver. And it’s not something you can say for Tom Brady, who might leapfrog Brees this weekend.

Manning and Brady had lost something when they got into the 530s in TD passes. Brees has lost nothing. He is still dealing.

As Frank Reich said: “Tonight, we just got it handed to us.”

Yep. That about sums it up from a Colts perspective. They did get it handed to them. And they got it handed to them by an absolute legend. A guy who went 29 for 30 and is still going to be bothered by the one that he missed - a pass to Latavius Murray in the first quarter. And you know that’s going to bother Brees.

“I’ll be honest with you, you always think about the one that you missed. If I just set my darn feet and throw it to the running back, it’s 30-for-30, so that one may haunt me for a little while.”

So what’s the most impressive thing about Brees? Take your pick. Is it the freaky accuracy? The unbelievable mastery of the offense? Or the longevity?

His first touchdown pass came for the Chargers when they were coached by Mike Riley. He came off the bench to relieve Doug Flutie. Doug Flutie won the Heisman 35 years ago and Drew Brees was his backup in the NFL. And now, 18 years later, he’s breaking the career touchdown mark.

Oh, and remember that shoulder injury? The dislocation through the bottom of the shoulder that was so bad it was a 1-in-500 injury? The one where Dr. James Andrews put 13 anchors into his shoulder?

That injury was supposed to end his career. The Miami Dolphins sent the medical info on Brees to six different doctors and the info they got back led them to pass on him and sign Daunte Culpepper instead.

That decision was 13 years ago. That’s how utterly ridiculous Drew Brees and his career have been. He was supposed to be done 13 years ago. That’s like four NFL careers ago. And he’s going out on Monday night and not just breaking career records, but breaking single game records.

And about number 540? Brees knew he had it before he had it. Once he knew the call and saw the defense, he knew it was over.  

“The funny thing was as we walked up to the ball, the play call comes in and I’m thinking, ‘Touchdown.’ The minute we walk up to the ball and I see the look, I say ‘Oh, this is definitely a touchdown, right?’ So it played out just the way we thought as far as the play call and him being wide open on the run action.”

And do you know why he knew it would be a touchdown? Because of his mastery of the game. And that doesn’t come accidentally. That is the result of crazy hard work. And moments like the one former teammate Reggie Bush caught on video on Sunday and posted to Instagram.

The video is from the Saints practice facility and it’s Brees at the far end of the field, simulating a game, by himself. Dropping back, pump faking, adjusting to invisible defenders, and working with invisible teammates. It’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen in a while. 

Brees gets so detailed and so prepared in those moments, he even prepared for how it would feel to break the record. Because he didn’t want to be unprepared and have the emotions of the record impact the game.

As he said last night: “I don’t want to be just so overcome with emotion that, there’s still a lot of football left to be played throughout the course of the game. It’s so unpredictable, right? You hope that it’s going to happen, you want to be prepared if it does. Because … I want to make sure that everybody around me knows how thankful I am for them and how grateful I am, to my team, to everyone in the stadium, to our entire fanbase, to my family and friends and everyone that was here. All of those have been such an integral part of this. So you want to give that value. You want to be able to do that, and yet, it’s within the framework of a game. It might be a tight game, so you want to get your mind in focus and right back on the next play. You’re still in it. But I’d say the way it happened tonight obviously allowed us to enjoy it.”

Preparing like that for a game is one thing. Preparing like that to break a record so that it doesn’t impact the game is another. That is completely next level stuff. The number of people who prepare like that and then live it, is tiny.

Drew Brees is one of them.

And because of that preparation and that work, it’s easy to take him for granted. I get it. Even his teammates get it. As Cameron Jordan said: "I feel like I keep taking him for granted. How many records has he broken? He broke two today. He's unbelievable."

But don’t do it. Fight the urge to take Drew Brees for granted. Because when he’s gone, there won’t be another one like him. There won’t be another guy who’s faced the obstacles that he’s faced, impacted a city the way he’s impacted a city, and put up the numbers he’s put up. Enjoy it. Soak it in every chance you get. Appreciate this guy.  Respect this guy. Because there really have never been another like him, and probably never will be ever again.