Drew Brees is a living NFL artifact. This past Monday night in NOLA against the Washington football team, he broke Peyton Manning’s all-time passing yardage record to ring up 72,103 career passing yards. There’s still plenty of the 2018 season to play, so he’s only going to break his own career record from here on out. This is, of course, disgusting.
Over the course of his now 18-year long professional career, Drew Brees has played quarterback against the Atlanta Falcons 26 times, 25 times as a New Orleans Saint. That he at one time slung passes for the Chargers feels like ancient history at this point, insofar as the first year of the first term of the George W. Bush administration can be considered ancient history.
Brees’ career record against the Falcons is currently 17-9, including a 2004 loss in Atlanta while he was still with San Diego (speaking of ancient history, yes, the Chargers used to play out of San Diego).
Brees has been playing against Atlanta as a Saint since 2006, and he’s beaten the Falcons 17 times in that span.
History tells no lies, and history is rarely kind, especially for Atlanta Falcons fans. It’s important to grasp and hold onto history, though, both good and bad, because history teaches. History contextualizes and helps us appreciate the now. Rarely does this blogger appear in this space to offer tidings of hope, because rarely does this blogger look up at his television when the Falcons are playing and feel even a kernel of hope.
“The beatings will continue until morale improves,” and all that, sure.
With that said, Drew Brees’ history against Atlanta is not kind, especially as a Saint. With a 17-8 record against the Birds at New Orleans, his winning percentage after 25 meetings currently sits at 68 percent. He wins more than two-thirds of the time against Atlanta, and that time includes some very bad Saints history to boot. Never mind that he and Sean Payton more or less turned New Orleans around into a perennial NFC contender. That is, of course, disgusting.
So let’s take a look at a few of Brees’ more notable AND less notable performances against Atlanta, shall we?
Brees’ career performance against the Birds is, in its outer contours, mostly dominant (sorry).
When Dave Choate and I first talked about this article, he was hoping we’d be able to find some ways to make Falcons fans feel good about the team’s history against Brees. So let’s start with some positive history to cleanse the palette for the bitterness that follows. Brees’ most lopsided fail against Atlanta occurred on Dec. 21, 2014 in New Orleans and ended in a 30-14 Falcons victory. Atlanta scored at least once in every quarter of the game — twice in the second and fourth — while New Orleans only logged singular touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters. The Saints entered the day as six-point favorites, and the over/under was 56.5.
The Falcons’ defense showed up in a big way (LOUD COUGHING), forcing two fumbles — one recovered for a turnover — and nabbing two interceptions. Brees threw for 313 yards and a touchdown, but he was also sacked five times. Each of those sacks was at the hands of a different defender (Hi, Dwight Lowery!).
While we’re here and still in a good mood, let’s also digest the fact that Brees has thrown three pick-sixes to Atlanta’s secondary over the course of his career, most recently in a 2016 45-32 Saints loss in NOLA.
Of Brees’ 17 wins over Atlanta, seven of those have come after leading the Saints down the field on a game-winning drive.
From 2007 to 2011, Brees led at least one game-winning touchdown drive down the Atlanta defense’s collective throat. The most recent, of course, occurred just a few weeks ago, when he threw 39 completions on 49 attempts for a nearly 80 percent completion percentage. He tossed three touchdowns against zero interceptions, and came four yards shy of 400 passing yards when it was all said and done.
Two years ago, enemies of the Falcoholic compiled Brees’ top five performances against the Falcons, and it makes for heavy reading. Of note therein:
- A 31-13 triumph in 2006 that saw his highest passer rating against Atlanta ever at 131.1. Michael Vick was on that Falcons team. That QBR remains his best single-game rating against the Falcons in his entire career.
- In a 45-16 drubbing of the Birds back in December 2011, Brees broke Dan Marino’s single-season yardage record. Sigh.
To say that Brees holds the Falcons’ number over the course of his 18-year long career is something of an understatement. A full nine of his 17 wins over the Falcons occurred in Atlanta, which when you step back and view from a distance feels rather insulting.
In the same way that major feats of statistical accomplishment on old NFL Presents highlights invariably include very inept Falcons players lumbering about in the background, Atlanta has bore witness to 7,568 yards of Brees’ 72,103 career yards. That means that the Atlanta Falcons have stood by and watched nearly 10 percent of Drew Brees’ completion yardage.
And maybe like those old NFL Presents episodes, the Falcons have silvered themselves into the linings of NFL history at the hands of Drew Brees. Whatever comes after he’s gone will be very welcome, indeed.