For three years, Saints QB Drew Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in every regular-season game, and his 40-yard touchdown pass to Devery Henderson on Sunday night broke one of the longest-running NFL records.
Brees passed Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas by throwing a touchdown pass in his 48th consecutive game, dating back to Week Six of the 2009 season. The Saints might have gotten off to a slow start this season, but he has managed to find the endzone in each game.
The record-breaking game was monumental for Brees in a number of ways. He completed 29-of-45 passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns, putting on a superb performance to get the Saints their first win of the season. He did so in front of suspended head coach Sean Payton, who was granted permission to attend the game by Roger Goodell after Brees’ request.
The week-in, week-out consistency of Brees’ record is remarkable, even in today’s NFL landscape of a passing league. Aaron Rodgers, arguably the league’s best quarterback, was held without a touchdown pass in Green Bay’s Week Three loss to Seattle, ending his streak at 20 games, less than half of Brees’ mark.
Brees’ closest competitor is Patriots QB Tom Brady, but outside Brady, no active quarterback is a serious threat to Brees’ record, at least for the near future.
Here’s the list of the active quarterbacks who have the longest current streaks of games with a passing touchdown, following Brees:
1. Patriots QB Tom Brady / 37 — Brady’s streak began with the season opener in 2010, when he threw three TD passes against the Bengals. He tossed a total of 36 TDs that year and won the MVP. He kept it up last season, throwing multiple touchdown passes in every game but two. This season, he already has three games throwing only one TD pass. Brady continued his consecutive-games streak by hitting one of his favorite targets, WR Wes Welker, for a touchdown on New England’s second drive in Sunday’s game against Denver. It was Welker’s first TD catch of the season.
2. Falcons QB Matt Ryan / 20 — Ryan, an early MVP candidate with his team off to a 5-0 start, had a poor season opener in 2011, throwing one interception and zero touchdowns in a 30-12 loss to the Bears. Since then, he has thrown a touchdown pass in every game, and has 13 TD passes this season. He had a string of five consecutive games in ’11 with only one touchdown pass, but Ryan kept his streak alive. On Sunday, he hit veteran TE Tony Gonzalez on a one-yard pass in the second quarter to lift his streak to 20 consecutive games with a TD pass.
3. Broncos QB Peyton Manning / 12 — Manning is on the all-time list with 27 games in a row throwing a touchdown pass from 1998-99. He also is tied with Brady, Rodgers and Don Meredith with 13 consecutive games with at least two TD passes. This current streak began in Week 11 of 2010, when Manning threw four touchdown passes in a loss to Brady’s Patriots. After missing the 2011 season because of neck surgeries, Manning has thrown a TD pass in every game this season, including Week Five, when he threw a one-yard scoring strike to TE Joel Dreessen.
T-4. Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman / 7 — Freeman finished a disappointing 2011 season with a touchdown pass in the final three games, and he has kept the streak up this season, barely. He has thrown multiple TD passes in only two games of the current streak. Freeman also had a streak of 15 consecutive games with a touchdown pass from 2010-11. He will have a chance to extend his current streak in Week Six against the Chiefs.
T-4. Giants QB Eli Manning / 7 — In a 23-10 loss to the Redskins last season, Manning threw three interceptions and zero touchdowns, and it appeared as though the Giants would miss out on the playoffs. We all know what happened next, as Manning led the Giants to a Super Bowl championship for the second time in his stint as the team’s starting QB, and he has thrown a touchdown in every game since. Manning threw a TD pass to WR Victor Cruz in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the Browns to keep the streak going.