The New Orleans Saints made a strong statement throughout the NFC on Monday night by thoroughly dispatching the Washington Redskins in front of a national audience. The Redskins may not be the strongest team on the New Orleans schedule, but they are one of the league's better defenses, and also have an efficient offense.
The Saints were firing on nearly all cylinders early, and despite some early struggles defensively on 3rd down, they held a Redskins offense that historically has given them trouble in check. Washington finished with just 283 total yards, and the Saints were again dominant against the run, giving up just 39 yards and 2.1 per carry. New Orleans sacked Washington quarterback Alex Smith three times, forcing a fumble and intercepting him once. The Saints secondary again did a solid job at bottling up the passing game, all but eliminating the big plays down the field.
Offensively, New Orleans rolled up 27 first downs and 447 total yards. Running back Mark Ingram returned to the lineup after a four game suspension and rushed for two scores, as New Orleans employed a balanced game plan that kept the Washington defense on their heels. The Saints also benefited from solid performances from their supporting cast, meaning that they did not need a high output from Michael Thomas or Alvin Kamara to be successful. Certainly a frightening thought for the rest of the NFL. This was a dominant team win, to be sure, but today we just give out one game ball, to a legend that often gets overlooked during conversations about the greatest of all time.
With 2:46 to go in the second quarter and ahead 20-6, Saints quarterback Drew Brees dropped back to pass and looked deep down the right sideline. In his typical perfect precision, Brees hit rookie wide receiver Tre'quan Smith, who barely broke stride while taking the ball in for a 62-yd. touchdown. The reception was Smith's first professional score, and put the Saints firmly in control of the game. Even more historically important, the completion vaulted Drew Brees past Peyton Manning as the NFL's all-time passing yardage record holder.
Smith, who led all receivers with a career high 111 yards on 3 catches, added a 35-yd. score from Brees early in the 3rd quarter. The competitive phase of this game was ended a short time later, when a Justin Hardee interception return set up a short Saints touchdown, putting them up 40-13 before the end of the third quarter. New Orleans benefited from several standout performances. Marcus Davenport, Cam Jordan, Sheldon Rankins (1 sack each), and Demario Davis led an aggressive defensive effort that heavily pressured the Redskins backfield all evening. Cam Meredith (5 catches, 71 yards), Thomas (4-74), and Smith were the leaders of Brees' aerial assault on the night, as the Saints had seven pass plays of over 20 yards.
The Saints put on perhaps their most complete performance of the 2018 season so far, and served notice that they are indeed a championship contender as the season nears it's halfway point. This evening though, belonged to the 39-yr old Brees, as he broke one of the most hallowed career marks in all of sports. As he typically will, Brees was his best when the spotlight shined the brightest, completing 26 of his 29 passes (89.7%) for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns. For the year, he has completed nearly 78% of his throws, averaging over 330 yards per game, and has thrown 11 touchdown passes without a single interception. He has now thrown for 72,103 yards in his incredible career, and next has his sights set on the NFL all time passing touchdown mark. Brees currently has 499 touchdown passes, one behind Tom Brady's 500. Only Brett Favre (508) and Peyton Manning (539) sit ahead of the next iconic record on Brees' path to the Hall of Fame. As any New Orleans player will tell you though, the most important numbers to Brees are the 43-19 score his team won by on Monday night, and the 4 victories the Saints have as they enter their bye week. Unlike most of the greats late in their career that number 9 is passing up statistically, Brees is still playing very close to the best football of his amazing career. Combine that with the impressive play of the talented New Orleans team around him, the number that this group is most focused on is adding championship #2 on the amazing resume' of one of the greatest football players of all time.
Congratulations Drew Brees!
Which is the most impressive NFL record that Drew Brees has set?
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Career passing yardage (72,103)
Single season completion percentage (72.0, 2017)
Number of seasons with over 5,000 passing yards (5)
Consecutive seasons with over 4,000 passing yards (12)
Single game passing touchdowns (7, 2015, tied with 7 players)
Consecutive games with a touchdown pass (54)
Most completions in a single season (471, 2016)
Career completions (6,370)