Next week’s playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will set a lot of records for the starting quarterback matchup.
It will be the most career passing yards among two quarterbacks in a playoff game. It will also be the most combined career passing touchdowns in a playoff game. That’s not hard to figure out considering Tom Brady and Drew Brees own the top two spots in both categories (Brees leads in yards, Brady leads in TDs). It will also be the highest combined age for the two quarterbacks in a playoff game.
The Saints’ plodding 21-9 win over the Chicago Bears sets up a classic matchup. Next up for the Saints will be the Buccaneers. It will be the first playoff meeting between the two legendary quarterbacks. Given reports that Brees is leaning toward retiring after the season, it will likely be the only playoff matchup between the two as well.
There’s more to any NFL game than just the two quarterbacks, but you can put this one in the time capsule right away.
Saints grind out a win over Bears
Brady’s Bucs beat the Washington Football Team on Saturday night. Brady looked great, with 381 passing yards and two touchdowns. Brees wasn’t prolific on Sunday, and it took the Saints a long time to put away the Bears. Brees finished with 265 passing yards and a pair of TD passes.
New Orleans scored first on a touchdown pass from Brees to Michael Thomas and it seemed like a blowout could be underway. The Bears stayed in it for a while, despite Javon Wims dropping a wide-open touchdown on a trick play. Chicago trailed 7-3 into the third quarter.
Finally the Saints put together a long drive. On a fourth-and-3, Bears safety Eddie Jackson jumped offside when the Saints went for it. Given a first down to keep the drive alive, Brees hit running back Latavius Murray for a 6-yard touchdown pass. An Alvin Kamara touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave New Orleans a 21-3 lead.
The Saints’ defense wasn’t going to give up that lead. They held down the Bears’ running game and Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t get much going passing. The Bears’ only score was a field goal set up by a Taysom Hill turnover in Saints territory. The Bears didn’t convert a third down or break 150 yards of offense until the final two minutes of the game. New Orleans looked great on defense, though Chicago’s issues on offense factored into that.
The Saints’ offense will have to be better against the Buccaneers, but that hasn’t been a problem this season.
Drew Brees vs. Tom Brady in the divisional round
Brady vs. Brees was a highlight on the regular-season schedule the moment Brady signed with the Bucs last offseason. Neither matchup provided much drama.
The Saints beat the Buccaneers 34-23 in Week 1. The rematch was a shocking blowout, as the Saints won 38-3. It was 31-0 at halftime.
It appears this will be the final meeting between the two quarterbacks. Brady reportedly wants to return next season and play with the Buccaneers at age 44. NFL Network reported Brees is likely to retire after this season. He’ll turn 42 on Friday, and has a broadcasting job with NBC lined up for whenever he walks away from the Saints. He could change his mind and return, but nobody will be surprised if he retires.
One big edge Brady has over Brees in their careers is Super Bowl titles. Brady has six rings and has played in three other Super Bowls. Brees has one Super Bowl appearance and one ring. New Orleans has come up short in the playoffs the past few years, with some excruciating losses. Brees keeps coming back and the Saints keep building around him, hoping for one last title run before he retires.
The Saints got past the first step on their postseason journey this season. They’ll need to beat a legendary quarterback to continue their playoff run, and perhaps Brees’ career.