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Drew Brees passes Peyton for most career TD passes

If it's Monday night in the Superdome, Drew Brees is making history.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback moved up in the record books yet again on Monday evening, passing Peyton Manning for most career touchdown passes (541) in NFL history with four scores in a 34-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts, Manning's former team.

The quarterback's first TD pass of the evening, a 15-yard toss to Michael Thomas (who else?), came on New Orleans' second drive of the game with 12:43 left in the second quarter. Brees' second -- a 21-yard strike to Tre'Quan Smith -- came six minutes later, tying him with Manning.

Brees' record-breaker came on a five-yard pass to backup tight end Josh Hill on New Orleans' first drive of the third quarter. Brees said after the game that Hill was a "fitting" recipient, as he has been New Orleans' "unsung hero" since joining the club as a UDFA in 2013.

The score, which extended the Saints' lead over Indianapolis to 27-0, was met with a brief celebration on the field, in the stands and in the Brees family box. The 40-year-old quarterback was embraced by all of his offensive teammates and then ran to the sidelines with the historic pigskin and hugged coach Sean Payton, with whom Brees has spent all 14 of his seasons in New Orleans.

"I wouldn't be here without Sean," Brees said after the game.

Brees wasn't done yet though. The Saints QB threw his fourth TD of the night and the 541st of his career to Taysom Hill on a 28-yard toss late in the third quarter.

To add to his historic evening, Brees finished 29-of-30 (96.7 completion pct.) for 307 yards, breaking the single-game completion percentage mark set by Philip Rivers, his Chargers successor, last season. Brees completed his final 22 passes on Monday night, but still wasn't pleased by the one he missed -- a second-quarter attempt in the direction of Latavius Murray, three plays after which Brees threw his first score.

"It was efficient, with the exception of the one pass," Brees said of his night. "Listen, I go out there with the expectation that the ball shouldn't touch the ground, unless I'm throwing it away or occasionally they're going to make a play, you know? You have that expectation. You work for that. You expect that."

Brees' efficient showing Monday night increased his completion percentage on the season to 75.8. If the season ended today, Brees would break that record, too, held by, well, Brees from 2018 (74.4).

This is the second straight season that Brees has climbed to the top of the record books on "Monday Night Football." Brees passed Manning for most career passing yards (71,940) against the Redskins on "MNF" in Week 5 in 2018.

"It was special, everything about the night," Brees told reporters. "I don't know how they pick them, right? 'Monday Night Football,' we're playing the Colts, the team we won the Super Bowl against 10 years ago, so the whole Super Bowl XLIV is back for the 10th anniversary and obviously national television, big game. And now that record in the balance as well.

"Just kind of makes you shake your head, like are you kidding me? I'm not sure how we got here. It just kind of makes your whole life and career flash before your eyes because I never thought I would've had the chance to be a part of something like this."

In addition to usurping Manning, Brees also passed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (538) on the list in the process.

Entering Monday night, Brees had 537 career TD passes, 76,577 career passing yards and an NFL-best 67.5 career completion percentage. He leaves atop the career charts in each of those statistics, though perhaps not for long if Brady can muster a late-season surge.

But on a night full of individual milestones, the most important stat for Brees and his team was the one in the win column. With the victory, New Orleans bounced back from last week's shootout loss, moved to 11-3 and inched closer to a potential first-round bye in the NFC.

"Look, honestly, the win means a lot," Payton told reporters. "There's going to be a day some day where we all just ride off into the sunset but it's not now."

With his teammates from the 2009 Super Bowl run in the building Monday night, Brees adopted a similar mindset as his coach after the momentous victory: that not of a record-holder but of a champion.

Said Brees, "I'd trade (the records) for another one of those and that experience with this team, this group of guys." 

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