It’s not exactly Sammy Sosa vs. Mark McGuire circa 1998, but heading into this NFL season there was the potential for an all-time touchdown race between Tom Brady and Drew Brees

Both were in spitting distance of Peyton Manning’s all-time passing record of 539 touchdowns to start the year, and it’s really a matter of when they’ll pass him, rather than if. 

While this race to the NFL‘s passing touchdown mountaintop would have been a nice side story to both New Orleans and New England’s seasons, a wrench was thrown into it with Brees going down with a thumb injury that requires surgery. The projected timetable for Brees’ return is somewhere between six and eight weeks. 

In that time, Brady now has the opportunity to edge in front of Brees and establish a lead in a record books. 

After Week 2, both Brees and Brady are tied with 522 career passing touchdowns (not including postseason), which is 18 scores shy of passing No. 18 for the all-time record. 

If Brady keeps up his current pace of 2.5 touchdowns per game over the course of the eight weeks that Brees may be sidelined for, that will not only give him the record, but would also create a 20-touchdown cushion over Brees when he gets back. 

That could be enough to fend off the Saints quarterback from eventually surpassing him on the all-time touchdown chart as both Brees, 40, and Brady, 42, could realistically wind up their careers in any offseason at this point. 

After those two, Philip Rivers (377), Ben Roethlisberger (363), Eli Manning (362) and Aaron Rodgers (341) are the next active quarterbacks within the top 10 all-time of career passing touchdowns. Outside of potentially Rodgers, it doesn’t appear like any of them will reach Brady or Brees. 

If Rodgers doesn’t, Matt Ryan (300) and Matthew Stafford (242) are the next two active quarterbacks in the discussion, but they likely won’t reach them either, and that’s why this Brees injury is significant. 

This race isn’t a simple regular season record, it’s the most touchdowns ever thrown in the regular season. It’s not as illustrious as baseball’s home run record, but it’s still a pretty big deal. 

Of course, when accounting for the playoffs, Tom Brady already has Brees and Manning beat by sizable number, but this is the record of note when it comes to passing scores, so there is incentive for TB12 to add to his Hall of Fame resume. 

And that touchdown mark isn’t the only all-time record Brady can put a dent in as it relates to Brees. 

Last season, the Saints QB passed Peyton Manning on the all-time passing yards list. Currently, Brees has 74,845 career passing yards, which is 3,726 yards above Brady’s 71,119. 

If Brady continues on the 302.5 yards per-game pace that he’s on this season, Brady could add 2,420 yards to his credit while Brees is at a standstill. That would put him at 73,539 yards passing for his career, 1,306 yards behind Brees. That is a much more manageable distance for Brady to possibly overtake Brees, especially if he ends up playing after Brees retires. 

While Brady’s Hall of Fame bust is essentially already made in Canton, the Patriots quarterback just was given an opportunity to more easily attain (and possibly keep) these records, further solidifying him as the greatest to ever do it. 

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