BALTIMORE (AP) — So, Drew Brees finally beat the Baltimore Ravens. Years from now, the remarkable New Orleans quarterback will hopefully recall the comeback he engineered and 500th career touchdown pass — and not the unusual fashion in which the Saints won the game.
By virtue of the first missed conversion in Justin Tucker’s seven-year career, the Saints pulled out a 24-23 victory Sunday.
The Ravens were the only team Brees had never beaten. Granted, the teams meet only once every four years, but that was enough to saddle him with an 0-4 lifetime record against Baltimore.
Now it’s 1-4 after Brees helped New Orleans put up 17 fourth-quarter points against a defense that had not allowed a touchdown in the second half this season. Because the Saints prevailed, Brees joined Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to beat every team in the league.
“They’ve had some tremendous defensive teams in the past,” Brees said of Baltimore. “Guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Adalius Thomas, Peter Boulware and Haloti Ngata.”
This unit has Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle, C.J. Mosley and plenty other stars. Brees, however, was up for the challenge.
He went 22 for 30 for 212 yards, increasing his NFL record in passing yardage to 72,315. The 39-year-old also threw two touchdown passes, the first of which was the 500th of his career, a 1-yarder to Ben Watson in the second quarter.
The only other members of the 500 club are Favre, Manning and Tom Brady. Period.
“One of the greatest things about the 500th touchdown pass, it was caught by one of my favorite teammates of all time,” Brees said. “I couldn’t think of better guy to catch this touchdown than Ben Watson. He is a terrific veteran, and I look up to him.”
Said Watson: “Anything I can do to further his records, the happier I am. I was thrilled to catch the 500th touchdown pass.”
Incredibly, Brees insisted that Watson take the souvenir.
“This is the kind of guy Drew Brees is: He wanted me to keep the ball,” Watson said. “I said, ‘I am not keeping this.’ So he did take it.”
Coming off a game in Tennessee in which the Ravens recorded 11 sacks, the league’s top-ranked defense had its hands full with Brees.
“You have to tip your cap to the best ever,” Weddle said. “We had him wrapped up, and he was just finding a way to make a play.”
The Ravens lost, but Weddle took great pleasure in matching wits with Brees for the better part of three hours.
“These are the games you live for,” Weddle said. “Drew Brees is one of the best ever to play the game. We presented some challenges. We played well at times, and he made incredible plays to continue drives.”
That’s what Brees does, far better than most.
“Drew is absolutely unbelievable,” Saints guard Larry Warford said. “One of the greatest competitors in the game. He never gives up. It’s a blessing to have him leading the team.”