Drew Brees not returning to the sidelines for the 2021 NFL season will bring smiles to a lot of Atlanta Falcons fans. The Falcons team Twitter account shared the same feeling but also a respect for the future Hall of Fame quarterback on Sunday.
Following Brees’ official retirement announcement, the Falcons team Twitter account posted a video with several Brees highlights and lowlights against the Falcons. The overall message was how Brees “brought out the best” in his NFC South rival but tortured them too.
“Nothing ever came easy against you…”
“You strengthened us because you tortured us … you brought out the worst and the best of us.” Check out the full video below:
Undoubtably, the most memorable Falcons moment against Brees came in the teams’ first meeting at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Thursday Night Football in early December during the 2017 season. The Falcons led by 3 with 1:30 to go, but Brees had driven the Saints to the Falcons 11-yard line. On second-and-10, Brees threw a pass in the middle of the end zone intended for Josh Hill, but Deion Jones intercepted the pass to seal the Falcons victory.
The pick completed a comeback that featured Saints coach Sean Payton using the choke sign to taunt the Falcons from the sidelines. As Atlanta fans don’t need reminded, the Falcons blew a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl 10 months prior. But it was the Saints who blew a fourth-quarter touchdown lead that night.
While that was a great Falcons moment against Brees, the future Hall of Fame signal caller and the Saints earned the last laugh, beating the Falcons in Week 17 to clinch the NFC South that season. The Saints have also won six of the last seven matchups in the rivalry since the Jones interception.
It doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but Brees officially retired from the NFL on Sunday. He exits as the all-time leader in passing yards and No. 2 in NFL touchdown passes. At one point, Brees was first in touchdown tosses, but injuries slowed his pace during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, and Tom Brady eventually passed him and led by 10 touchdowns at the conclusion of 2020. Barring injury, Brady will also pass Brees on the passing yards list in October this season.
Brees never won league MVP, but he led the league in passing yards seven times, and he was first in touchdown passes on four occasions. Brees reached the 5,000-yard mark in a single season five times. No other quarterback has thrown for greater than 5,000 yards in a season more than once.
To put that into further perspective, Matt Ryan has never thrown for 5,000 yards but came close twice. He had 4,944 yards in his 2016 MVP season and 4,924 yards in 2018.
Brees led the Saints to their only championship in Super Bowl XLIV, winning the game’s MVP with 288 passing yards and two touchdowns.