The New Orleans Saints quarterback began the game against the Indianapolis Colts two touchdown passes short of Manning’s 539 and tied the record in the second quarter with a 21-yard pass to Tre’Quan Smith.
Midway through the third period, Brees then set a new NFL record as he connected with Josh Hill for a five-yard touchdown, his third of the night and the 540th of his extraordinary NFL career.
It was not the only record Brees set on Monday Night Football, as he completed 29 of his 30 passes, giving him a 96.7 completion percentage—the highest in history for quarterbacks with a minimum of 20 attempts in a single game.
He also set a personal record with 22 consecutive completions and can break the NFL’s record of 25 straight completions when the Saints play the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Sunday.
The veteran quarterback finished with 307 passing yards, four touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 148.9 as the Saints thrashed the Colts 34-7.
The Saints improved to 11-3 with the win, drawing level with the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at the top of the NFC and remain in the hunt to go into the playoff with the No. 1 seed.
Brees’ record night was made all the more special by the fact it came against one of Manning’s former teams and the team he helped defeat when he guided the Saints to their maiden Super Bowl triumph 10 years ago.
“It was special, everything about the night,” the 40-year-old was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “It just kind of makes your whole life and career flash before your eyes, because I never thought I’d have a chance to be part of something like this.”
The closest challenger to Brees’ newly-set record is Tom Brady, who took his career tally to 538 touchdown passes after tossing a pair of passes in the New England Patriots‘ 34-13 win in Cincinnati on Sunday.
According to ESPN, should Brady overtake Manning’s record before the end of the season, it will mark the first time two active players are the NFL’s leaders in touchdown passes since 1973.
The six-time Super Bowl winner is also the closest to Brees’ all-time record of completed passes. The Saints quarterback has delivered 6,972 passes in his 19 seasons in the NFL, while Brady’s tally stands at 6,335.
Unsurprisingly, the duo also lead the chart in passing yards, with Brees in top spot with 76,577, followed by Brady on 74,079.
While Brees and Brady are the only two active players ranked in the top five in the above categories, passer rating and completion percentage have a more current feel to it.
Brees ranks third in the former category with a 98.0 passer rating, behind Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Seattle Seahawks signal caller Russell Wilson and just ahead of Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins.
When it comes to completion percentage, Brees tops the leaderboard with a 67.5 career ratio, just ahead of Cousins, while Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott ranks fourth.
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