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Drew Brees’ Top 5 Passing Seasons with the Saints

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In the annals of NFL history, few player signings have proven as transformative and franchise-defining as when the New Orleans Saints secured the services of Drew Brees in 2006. The quarterback’s arrival in the Big Easy and the hiring of head coach Sean Payton marked a turning point for a team that had long struggled to sustain sustained success.

Armed with his pinpoint accuracy and relentless work ethic, Brees brought a level of excellence to the Saints’ offense that would revolutionize how the game was played. His signing stands tall among the all-time greatest free-agent acquisitions in NFL lore. It is a subject of debate for its ranking among North America’s most influential transactions in the four major professional sports leagues.

As we delve into Brees’ top five passing seasons with the Saints, it becomes evident that his impact extends far beyond the confines of the gridiron. From shattering records to redefining the quarterback position, Drew Brees’ legacy remains an enduring testament to the power of excellence and dedication in the world of professional sports.


1. 2009 Season: Paving the Way to Super Bowl Glory

The 2009 NFL season proved to be a defining moment in Drew Brees’ illustrious career and a historic turning point for the New Orleans Saints. This unforgettable season would forever alter the course of the franchise and leave an indelible mark on the city of New Orleans. New Orleans would start off the season on a 13-game winning streak. The streak was the organization’s first-ever in franchise history. The run would pave the way for what was in store two months later.


  • Near-Record Passing Yards: In 2009, Brees continued to showcase his mastery as a passer, amassing a staggering 4,388 passing yards during the regular season. While falling just shy of his own record-breaking standards, his ability to consistently move the ball downfield with precision passing and clutch throws made him the heart and soul of the Saints’ potent offensive attack.
  • Completion Percentage Excellence: Known for his remarkable accuracy, Brees set the tone for excellence in 2009 by completing an impressive 70.6% of his passes, emphasizing his unrivaled ability to thread the needle and connect with his receiving corps.
  • Pro Bowl and All-Pro Honors: Brees’ exceptional performance throughout the season earned him well-deserved recognition, as he was selected to the Pro Bowl and received All-Pro honors. His contributions were pivotal in leading the Saints to a franchise-best 13-3 record and home-field advantage for the first time in team history.

Team Achievements:

  • Franchise-Record 13 Regular Season Wins: The 2009 campaign saw the Saints achieve unprecedented success, as Brees’ leadership, combined with the innovative coaching of Sean Payton, powered the team to a franchise-record 13 regular-season wins. The Saints’ high-flying and resolute defense made them a formidable force to reckon with throughout the season.
  • NFC Champions and Super Bowl Victory: However, the significance of the 2009 season reached its zenith in the playoffs, where the Saints surged to new heights. Their journey culminated in a historic NFC Championship victory over the Minnesota Vikings, a thrilling contest showcasing the team’s resilience and determination. This triumph propelled the Saints to Super Bowl XLIV, where they faced the Indianapolis Colts. In an electrifying showdown, Brees demonstrated his mettle and led the Saints to a momentous 31-17 victory, capturing the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl title and etching his name in Saints and NFL history. He would go on to win MVP honors after tying a Super Bowl record held by Tom Brady by completing 32 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Also, no other Super Bowl-winning quarterback faced the gauntlet of signal-callers Brees faced during the 2009-2010 postseason. Brees defeated Hall of Famers Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning in a three-game span.

The 2009 season proved to be a crowning achievement for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Brees’ extraordinary passing prowess and leadership, coupled with the team’s resilience and determination, resulted in an unforgettable Super Bowl run that brought immeasurable joy to the city of New Orleans and forever solidified their place among football’s elite.

2. 2011 Season: Rewriting the Record Books

The 2011 NFL season was undoubtedly one for the ages for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. With unwavering determination, Brees embarked on a record-breaking campaign, leaving an indelible mark on the history of the sport.


  • Single-Season Passing Yards Record: One of the most significant milestones of the season was Brees’ remarkable feat of shattering Dan Marino’s longstanding single-season passing yards record. In a jaw-dropping display of precision and arm strength, Brees racked up a staggering 5,476 passing yards, obliterating the previous record and etching his name in the NFL history books.
  • Completion Percentage Record: Brees also displayed his unparalleled accuracy in 2011, setting a new NFL record for single-season completion percentage. He completed an astonishing 71.2% of his passes, showcasing his unrivaled ability to find open receivers and convert passing opportunities into crucial gains for the Saints.
  • 46 Touchdown Passes: Throughout the 2011 season, Brees showcased his consistent excellence by extending his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass. His career-high 46 touchdown passes rank seventh all-time for most in a season. He kept the streak alive weekly, ultimately reaching an impressive 54 games, surpassing Johnny Unitas’ long-standing record of 47 games.

Team Achievements:

  • NFC South Division Champions: Brees’ leadership and elite performance were instrumental in guiding the New Orleans Saints to the NFC South Division title. Under his guidance, the Saints finished the regular season with a commanding 13-3 record, securing their second division crown in three years.
  • Record-Setting Offense: Drew Brees spearheaded a record-setting offensive juggernaut during the 2011 season. The New Orleans Saints’ high-flying attack was a force to be reckoned with, as they set multiple franchise and NFL records. Brees’ precision passing and the innovative play-calling of head coach Sean Payton propelled the Saints to new heights, culminating in one of the most electrifying offenses the league had ever witnessed.

Drew Brees’  2011 season will forever be remembered as a season of unparalleled achievements and historic moments. The former second-round selection solidified his status as one of the all-time great quarterbacks in NFL history.

3. 2012 Season: Breaking Records and Stepping Up as a Leader

The 2012 NFL season marked another eventful and transformative year for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. As the team faced the challenge of Sean Payton’s suspension in the aftermath of the “Bountygate” scandal, Brees continued to excel on the field and showcased his exceptional leadership skills, taking on added responsibilities to guide the Saints through turbulent waters.


  • Breaking Johnny Unitas’ Touchdown Pass Streak: One of the most memorable moments of the 2012 season came on a Sunday night game against the San Diego Chargers. On October 7th, Drew Brees etched his name in the history books again by breaking Johnny Unitas’ long-standing record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Brees connected on a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game, surpassing the legendary Unitas and solidifying his place among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.

Stepping Up as a Leader During Payton’s Suspension:

  • Navigating the Absence of Sean Payton: When Sean Payton, the mastermind behind the Saints’ potent offensive system, was suspended for his alleged involvement in the “Bountygate” scandal, the team faced an unprecedented challenge. During this tumultuous time, Drew Brees demonstrated his exceptional leadership qualities, taking on an even more prominent role as the on-field general and the heart of the Saints’ offense.
  • Mentoring and Motivating the Team: Brees’ leadership extended beyond his exceptional play on the field. He took it upon himself to mentor younger players and motivate the entire team in the face of adversity. His unwavering commitment and composure under pressure set the tone for the Saints’ resiliency during an emotionally charged and challenging season.
  • Exemplary Conduct as a Player and Leader: Throughout Payton’s suspension, Brees should be commended for his professionalism and integrity. His ability to shoulder the burden of extra responsibilities while remaining focused on the game is a testament to his dedication and character as a player and leader.

Team Accomplishments During Payton’s Suspension:

Despite the absence of their head coach, the 2012 Saints rallied under Brees’ guidance and achieved several notable accomplishments:

  • Setting Offensive Records: Led by Brees’ prolific passing, the Saints’ offense remained one of the most potent in the league. They set multiple franchise and NFL records, continuing to light up the scoreboard in a high-flying fashion. With Pete Carmichael at the helm calling plays, the Saints finished second in total offense, averaging 410.9 yards per game. They finished first in passing offense, averaging 312.3 yards per game.
  • Competing for Playoff Contention: Though the Saints narrowly missed qualifying for the playoffs, they remained a formidable opponent for every team they faced. Brees’ leadership and offensive prowess kept the Saints in contention until the very end of the season.
  • Resilience and Team Unity: Despite the challenges they faced, the Saints displayed unwavering unity and resilience. Brees’ ability to galvanize the team and maintain a sense of purpose throughout the adversity spoke volumes about his influence on and off the field.

The 2012 season witnessed Drew Brees’ continued excellence as a quarterback and served as a testament to his exceptional leadership qualities. As he broke records and steered the team through difficult times, Brees proved that he was a generational talent on the field and a true leader who could inspire and unite his teammates in the face of adversity.

4. 2013 Season: Reuniting with Payton and Returning to Playoff Success

The 2013 NFL season marked a triumphant return for Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton. As the cloud of the “Bountygate” scandal lifted, the New Orleans Saints emerged stronger than ever, reestablishing their winning ways under the guidance of their dynamic quarterback-coach duo.


  • 5,162 Passing Yards: Drew Brees showcased his passing prowess in the 2013 season, racking up an impressive 5,162 passing yards. His ability to dissect defenses with surgical precision made him a constant threat to opposing teams.
  • 39 Touchdown Passes: Brees’ arm remained as potent as ever, as he threw for 39 touchdowns during the regular season. His ability to find the end zone consistently provided the Saints with the offensive firepower needed to compete at the highest level.
  • Completion Percentage and Passing Efficiency: Brees maintained his reputation for accuracy, completing an impressive 68.6% of his passes in 2013. He boasted a passer rating of 104.7, further solidifying his status as one of the league’s premier quarterbacks.

Playoff Success:

  • Road Playoff Victory: The 2013 season also witnessed a historic moment for the New Orleans Saints as they secured their first-ever road playoff victory. In a thrilling Wild Card matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, Brees’ masterful performance and clutch throws led the Saints to a hard-fought 26-24 victory, proving their ability to win in challenging playoff environments.

Regular Season Success:

  • Strong 11-5 Regular Season Record: Under the guidance of Brees and Payton, the Saints returned to their winning ways, finishing the regular season with an impressive 11-5 record. The team’s renewed success was a testament to the chemistry and cohesion between their star quarterback and head coach.
  • Notable Games: In a Sunday Night Football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Brees and the Saints would set an NFL record by having 40 first downs and a franchise-record 625 total yards in their 49-17 victory over “America’s Team.” Brees completed 34 of 41 passes for 392 yards and four touchdowns. To close out the season, Brees would put on another clinic when the Saints routed division foe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 42-17. He completed 24 of 31 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns. Brees also recorded a season-high quarterback rating of 157.4.

5. 2018 Season: A Season of Accomplishments and Controversy

The 2018 NFL season proved to be a season of remarkable accomplishments for Drew Brees, but it also featured a moment of controversy that left a lasting impact on his legacy as an all-time great quarterback. After returning back to playoff-contending status in 2017, the Saints would set the bar even higher in 2018. For only the second time in team history, the Saints would clinch home-field advantage throughout the entire postseason after posting a 13-3 record.


  • Becomes NFL All-Time Passing Leader: In the 2018 season, Drew Brees again etched his name in the NFL record books. On October 8, 2018, during a Monday Night Football game against the Washington Redskins, Brees surpassed Peyton Manning to become the NFL’s all-time leading passer. This historic achievement cemented Brees’ place among the greatest quarterbacks to have ever played the game.
  • 32 Touchdown Passes: Drew Brees continued to defy Father Time in the 2018 season, throwing for an impressive 32 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. His ability to consistently find the end zone and lead the Saints’ offense remained a hallmark of his exceptional career.
  • 74.4% Completion Rate: Brees displayed an astonishing level of accuracy, setting a new NFL record for single-season completion percentage with an impressive 74.4%. This feat highlighted his unrivaled ability to connect with his receivers and move the chains efficiently.
  • 3,992 Passing Yards:  Despite the Saints’ offense morphing into a more methodical attack, Brees continued to be on top of his game as one of the league’s elite passers. He threw for 3,992 passing yards to close out the 2018 campaign.


Controversial NFC Championship Game:

  • The No-Call Incident: The 2018 season will forever be remembered for the infamous “No-Call” incident during the NFC Championship Game. In a critical moment, the officials did not call a pass interference penalty which was evident to everyone. The controversial non-call ultimately cost the Saints a chance to secure the victory and potentially advance to the Super Bowl.

Impact on Brees’ Legacy:

The 2018 NFC Championship Game’s controversial ending significantly impacted Drew Brees’ legacy as one of the all-time greats. Had the pass interference penalty been called, the Saints would have likely secured the win and advanced to the Super Bowl, where they could have vied for another championship title. A second Super Bowl victory would have further solidified Brees’ status as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in NFL history.

Despite the disappointment of the controversial ending, Drew Brees’ 2018 season was a testament to his unwavering dedication, remarkable skill, and leadership on the field. His remarkable achievements and impact on the game will forever be etched in the hearts of Saints fans and football enthusiasts worldwide. As he continued showcasing his brilliance and passion for the game, Brees solidified his status as a true legend and an all-time great in professional football.

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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