Drew Brees nearing history against Redskins
ASHBURN The last time the Redskins faced Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback helped his team make history.
By storming back to a 34-31 overtime win after trailing by two touchdowns with less than six minutes left in regulation, the Saints became the first team last season to have an eight-game winning streak following an 0-2 start.
Now nearly a year later, Brees has a good shot at going into the record books again also at the Redskins’ expense.
Brees is just 201 yards from becoming the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards, and he’ll face the Redskins next week on “Monday Night Football.” Peyton Manning holds the record with 71, 940 yards.
But the Redskins don’t need any extra motivation, at least not after last year’s collapse.
“If he breaks it or not, to us, we don’t care,” linebacker Zach Brown said. “All we care is about winning, winning the game. I mean he can break the record, as long as we win.”
Washington came so close to stopping Brees last season.
For most of that November afternoon, the defense largely kept Brees in check holding the veteran signal caller to just 202 yards in three quarters. He was even sacked and threw an interception.
Still, the Saints were desperate and Brees was perfect when they needed him to be.
The Redskins let up in a number of areas failing to convert crucial first downs on offense and miscommunication led to a defensive breakdown. A season-ending injury to Chris Thompson (leg) was also demoralizing.
In the final six minutes, Brees was 11-of-11 for 164 yards and two touchdowns to force overtime.
“He’ll find a mistake and make you pay, so we’ve got to try to give him as little mistakes as possible and continue to get the pass rush on every down,” coach Jay Gruden said.
In some ways, it’s not surprising Brees is in this position to become the league’s all-time passing leader. He’s been a primer quarterback for his entire career, winning the Super Bowl in 2009. Over the summer, Manning told a group of reporters it was a matter of when, not if, Brees would surpass him.
Yet, Brees had to prove he could be an elite quarterback despite his 5-foot-9 frame. He also had to bounce back from a 2005 shoulder injury, which was serious enough that the Miami Dolphins pulled their offer in free agency because the team’s doctors wouldn’t clear him. Brees signed with the Saints instead.
Brees, however, continued to thrive and has extended his career as he approaches age 40 in January. New Orleans, too, has surrounded him with a talented supporting cast, such as by drafting explosive running back Alvin Kamara in the third round in 2017.
Redskins running back Adrian Peterson, who was with the Saints last year until being traded in October, called Brees “a great leader.”
“Being around him, he’s hands down the best quarterback in the league to me,” Peterson said. “Aaron Rodgers, he’s not far off. But I’ve got to give it to Drew Brees because the amount of time he’s been around in the league and he’s still doing it at a high level, and being around him personally, and seeing how he works off the field as well.”
If the Redskins want to prevent Brees from breaking the mark, they’ll have to be just the fifth team to hold the quarterback under 200 yards since the turn of the decade.
Two of those occasions happened in 2017, but the Saints won both of those games in a blowout. The last team to hold Brees under 200 yards and actually win was the 2013 Seattle Seahawks.
Behind Brees, the Saints are, again, a contender to win the NFC. They’ve started 3-1 and Brees, Kamra and receiver Michael Thomas are all in the top 10 of their statistical categories.
This will be another test for the Redskins, particularly after they shut down the Green Bay Packers in Week 3.
“It’s going to be a very exciting time for everybody,” Gruden said. “These young guys are going to have to step it up and the veteran guys are going to have to lead the way. But, should not have any problem whatsoever motivating the cats for Monday Night Football.”