Drew Brees achieved a couple more milestones and Tom Brady breathed a sigh of relief in a bruising day of monumental NFL comebacks and dramatic finishes on Sunday.
Brees threw his 500th career touchdown as the New Orleans Saints beat Baltimore for the first time in 16 years after Justin Tucker missed his first career extra point kick with 24 seconds remaining.
Brees, who etched his name in the record books earlier this month by eclipsing Peyton Manning in all-time passing yardage, threw two touchdowns as the Saints escaped with a 24-23 win over the Ravens.
Brees recorded his 500th touchdown pass to join Manning, Brett Favre and Tom Brady as the only quarterbacks to reach the milestone. He also became just the third player in history alongside Manning and Favre to record wins over all 32 NFL teams.
“You only get to play these guys once every four years, and not to put the pressure on it, but every time we play these guys, it’s been a battle,” Brees said. “They’ve had some pretty great defenses over those years.”
The win left the Saints sitting on a lofty perch atop the NFC South with five victories and just one loss.
Heading into the contest, Brees had lost all four of his previous games against the Ravens.
With just 24 seconds left on the clock, the Ravens scored the potential tying touchdown when quarterback Joe Flacco completed a 14-yard pass to receiver John Brown. That set the stage for Tucker to come in and extend his streak of 222 consecutive conversions and potentially send the game into overtime.
Tucker’s boot missed wide right which sparked a celebration by the Saints, who had marched back from a 10 point deficit to seize the late lead. Heading into the game Tucker was the most accurate kicker in NFL history in terms of field goal percentage.
“I thought I hit it well,” said Tucker. “At the end of the day I feel like I cost us the game.”
Brees completed 22 of 30 passes for 212 yards as he connected with tight end Benjamin Watson on a short strike into the end zone in the second quarter for the 500th career TD pass.
— NFL (@NFL) October 21, 2018
Elsewhere, Brady threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns as the New England Patriots earned their first road win of the season by rallying to defeat of the Chicago Bears 38-31.
The game almost turned on Mitchell Trubisky’s 54-yard Hail-Mary with no time on the clock but the Bears were stopped just shy of New England’s goal line.
“It’s a game of inches,” said Bears receiver Kevin White who hauled in the pass but was pushed back.
“He got a good throw on it,” said Brady. “You hold your breath.
“I saw him jump up and catch it. I am sure it was short by a half yard or a yard. Pretty close.”
New England had to overcome a 10-point deficit, two dropped interceptions, two fumbles that led to Bears’ touchdowns and some ill-timed penalties.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 21, 2018
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Joseph McBrien)