Sunday, October 7, 2012

Drew Brees

As I write this, the hullabaloo has just ended on Drew Brees throwing a TD pass in his 48th game in a row, breaking Johnny Unitas' 52-year record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

Outside of individual game marks, most NFL records were set fairly recently, as the league adopted its current 16-game schedule in 1978. Back in the '30s, '40s and '50s, NFL teams played 10- or 12-game seasons, so the Unitas record always stood out as one of the NFL's most longstanding records. The Joe DiMaggio hitting streak of football records.

I think what makes the Unitas streak even more impressive is that from 1956-60 (when his streak was ongoing), football was a much different, run-heavy game than it is today. Teams ran first and, for most teams, passing was almost a trick play. Unless they were trailing late in the game, teams just didn't pass the ball much. Obviously, the Unitas-led Baltimore Colts of that era weren't afraid to throw the ball, but they were the exception. The streak survived the likes of great passers such as Joe Montana, Dan Marino, John Elway and Brett Favre, none of whom even got close to approaching the record.

Still, I find it weird that it's called a consecutive game with a TD pass "streak." Unitas missed several games with injuries during his run -- the streak only reflects games in which he actually played. Not to be outdone, Drew Brees did not throw a TD pass in the final game of the 2009 season, because the Saints had locked up the NFC's top seed on their way to winning the Super Bowl that year and so Brees sat out that game with nothing to play for. To me, it really isn't a consecutive anything streak unless you play every game in the streak.

Never fear, though. If you go by consecutive uninterrupted games with a touchdown pass thrown, Brees still owns the record with tonight's TD pass. But he shares that record with New England Patriot QB Tom Brady. Sunday they both threw TD passes in their 37th consecutive uninterrupted games, surpassing Brett Favre, who has thrown TDs in 36 consecutive games at one point in his career. (Any time you can erase Favre from the record book it's a great day.) This is more impressive to me. It's difficult for a QB to stay healthy for a full 16-game season, let alone 2+ seasons.

That's not to take away anything from Unitas, whose mark is still pretty awe-inspiring. It's semantics, and I like to point out technicalities from time to time, if only to be a total jerk.

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