At the top, it’s just Drew Brees and Tom Brady

Or is it Tom Brady and Drew Brees?

Tom Brady greets Drew Brees after a game in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Patriots won 36-20. AP Photo/Bill Feig

Drew Brees’ four-touchdown performance Monday night did not only lead the New Orleans Saints to a comfortable 34-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts, but it also gave him more touchdown passes than any other quarterback in NFL history.

A look at the statistical standings shows that another quarterback wasn’t left too far behind: Tom Brady. In an era of big numbers for passers, those two names are almost always found at the top of quarterback lists.

The Good Stats

Brees now has 541 career touchdown passes, moving past retired Peyton Manning at 539. But Brady, the New England Patriots’ quarterback, has 538; depending on how the last two games of the season go, there could be a third different career leader in a span of a few weeks.


It’s not just in touchdowns that Brees and Brady rule. Last season, Brees broke another Manning record and became the career passing yards leader. He is still No. 1, with 76,884 yards. But Brady has also sailed past Manning and stands second at 74,079.

Completed passes? Brees and Brady are 1-2 again at 6,821 and 6,335.

They don’t lead in passing attempts, although that is hardly a knock against them. It’s the extra incompletions that keep Brett Favre in first in that category at 10,169. But Brees, at 10,093, should soon be No. 1, and Brady is third at 9,926.

The Bad Stats

When great players hang around as long as Brees and Brady have, they can’t help but climb the charts of the not-so-good statistics as well. But it is a testament to their ability that neither player is dominating any of these less appealing categories. Instead, Favre is a consistent No. 1.


Brees is 15th in interceptions, for example, with Brady tied at 42nd. (Favre leads with 336.)

Brady has been sacked the fourth most times in NFL history, and Brees the 16th most. (Favre went down 525 times.)

And how about the ugliest play in football, at least from the quarterback’s perspective? Brees ranks fourth in pick-6s, with Brady tied for 34th. (Yes, Favre leads again with 32.)

The Evaluating Stats

Certain statistics don’t rely on huge gross numbers, but rather on how efficiently those numbers are produced. A different quarterback tends to lead those tables.

Brees ranks third in the NFL’s career passer rating, according to Pro Football Reference, at 98.2. (Brady is sixth.) Brees trails two active quarterbacks who haven’t been around as long but are even more efficient: Aaron Rodgers’ career rating is 102.9, and Russell Wilson’s is 101.4.


In a similar statistic, adjusted yards per attempt, Rodgers leads at 8.37. Brady is seventh and Brees 11th.

As for accuracy, Brees leads all quarterbacks with a career 67.6 pass completion percentage. Brady is 15th.

The Single-Game Stats

It just takes one amazing day to get among these leaders, so consistently good players like Brady and Brees can sometimes be squeezed out by one-game wonders.

Still, Brees is one of seven quarterbacks who share the record for touchdown passes in a game. He had seven in 2015 against the New York Giants. Brady has thrown six touchdowns in a single regular-season game three times.


Brady’s total of 517 passing yards against the Miami Dolphins in 2011 is tied for the eighth-highest total in a single game. (Shout out to Norm Van Brocklin, the leader in that stat, who passed for 554 yards in 1951 for the Los Angeles Rams against the now-defunct New York Yanks.) Brees’ best is 510 yards.

Neither player has had a really huge game in terms of completions. Each has hit 39 in a game, Brady twice and Brees four times, tied for 28th. The record of 45 was set, oddly enough, by the man Brady replaced as Patriots quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, in 1994. And it was tied in September by the Rams’ Jared Goff, a player who, if he has the durability and desire, certainly has the potential for some big career numbers someday.


How about completion percentage? Well, with a minimum of 30 pass attempts, the single-game record is held by Brees at a mind-boggling 96.7%. Brees set it Monday night, in addition to breaking the career touchdowns record. Brees has five of the top 10 performances in this category, with Brady’s best game in 14th place.

The Biggest Stat of All

Which star quarterback will wind up at the top of the lists when all is said and done?

Age is the key factor to all that. Brees is 40. Brady is 42. Injuries are a huge unknown, and either player may decide to hang it up while still on top. But those two years certainly give Brees an advantage.


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