Brady, the quarterback for Tampa Bay, broke Drew Brees’ career record of 80,358 regular-season passing yards Sunday night as the Buccaneers met the New England Patriots in a nationally televised football game at Gillette Stadium.
Brady, 44, picked up the record-breaking yardage during the first quarter on a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Evans. Brady entered the game with 80,291 career yards and needed 68 yards to pass Brees, who retired after the 2020 season.
It was quite a homecoming for Brady.
In 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady threw for 74,571 regular-season yards. He led the Patriots to nine Super Bowls and won six of them. Last year, in his first season at Tampa Bay, Brady led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title.
Only 11 quarterbacks have reached 50,000 regular-season passing yards in their careers, according to The Sporting News.
The first quarterback to top 40,000 career yards during regular-season play was Johnny Unitas, who retired in 1973 with 40,239 yards. Unitas broke the record of 28,339, held by Y.A. Tittle, in the seventh game of the 1966 season, a 17-3 win against the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 30, 1966.
Fran Tarkenton took over and finished with 47,003 yards when he retired in 1978. Tarkenton passed Unitas in a 14-13 loss to the Chicago Bears on Oct. 31, 1976. The scrambling quarterback held the record for 19 years, longer than any other quarterback.
Dan Marino moved past Tarkenton in 1995 with a 9-yard pass to Irving Fryar in a 34-17 loss to New England. Marino finished with 61,361 yards before hanging up his cleats in 1999.
Brett Favre passed Marino in 2007, his final season with the Green Bay Packers, and finished with 71,838 when he retired in 2010. Favre broke Marino’s record with a 7-yard pass to Donald Driver on Dec. 6, 2007, in a 33-14 victory against the St. Louis Rams.
Peyton Manning vaulted past Favre in 2015 and retired that same year with 71,940 yards. Manning moved past Favre in Week 10 on his second pass of the game, a 4-yard toss to Ronnie Hillman, in Denver’s 29-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov 15, 2015..
Brees passed Manning in 2018 in spectacular fashion, connecting with Tre’Quan Smith on a 62-yard touchdown in Week 5 against Washington on Oct. 8, 2018, to put the Saints ahead 26-6. New Orleans would roll to a 43-19 victory.
Much has been made of Brady’s longevity. George Blanda is the oldest quarterback to complete a pass in the NFL, having thrown a completion at age 48 in 1975. However, no quarterback besides Brady has started more than 10 games.
Before Brady, only Favre had piled up more than 4,000 passing yards in a season at age 40 or older, The Sporting News reported. Brady has done it four times. Health permitting, he might do it again this season.
By the way, if NFL records included regular-season and postseason play, Brady would have been the leader a long time ago. Brady has 12,449 passing yards in the playoffs, while Brees has 5,366.
Brady finished Sunday night’s game with 269 yards passing as Tampa Bay rallied for a 19-17 victory.
TAMPA, FL – NOVEMBER 23: Tom Brady (12) of the Buccaneers is all smiles before the regular season game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 23, 2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
FILE – In this Jan. 18, 2004, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, talks with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning after the Patriots 24-14 win during their AFC Championship game in Foxborough, Mass. The rivalry that defined much of Brady’s career was the one he had with Manning. Brady won 11 of the 17 meetings, including the first time they met in the playoffs. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
BOSTON, MA – DECEMBER 07: Tom Brady is seen on December 07, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Stickman/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
FILE – New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shakes hands with a fan as he leaves the field after losing an NFL wild-card playoff football game to the Tennessee Titans in Foxborough, in this Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, file photo. Brady hasn’t played an NFL football game in New England since Jan. 4, 2020. But remnants from his 20-year run with the Patriots remain everywhere in Foxborough. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
FILE – In this Jan. 14, 2012, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates his 19-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Denver Broncos in Foxborough, Mass. Brady had one of his most prolific playoff games at home on Jan. 14, 2012, when he and the Patriots ended Tebow Mania. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady yells as enters the field for warmups before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
FILE – In this Jan. 10, 2015, file photo, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates his touchdown catch from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass. Brady has engineered nine fourth-quarter comebacks in the playoffs but just four of those came at home. Perhaps the most memorable of those New England comebacks outside of the Tuck Rule game, game on Jan. 10, 2015, against Baltimore. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
LOUISVILLE, KY – MAY 06: Tom Brady attends the 143rd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images)
Football: New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (12) and Rob Gronkowski (87) victorious after scoring touchdown during game vs Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indianapolis, IN 11/16/2014
CREDIT: David E. Klutho (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
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TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 07: Tom Brady (12) of the Buccaneers drops back to pass during the Super Bowl LV game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on February 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – APRIL 24: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady arrives backstage during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
TOPSHOT – Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
The Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28 after overtime. / AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – NOVEMBER 29: Tom Brady (12) of the Buccaneers shakes hands with Patrick Mahomes (15) of the Chiefs after the regular season game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 29, 2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – NOVEMBER 08: Two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history Drew Brees (9) of the Saints and Tom Brady (12) of the Buccaneers share a few words of encouragement after the regular season game between the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 08, 2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 06: Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen attend The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
US President Joe Biden holds a jersey alongside Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians (2nd R) and quarterback Tom Brady (R) during a ceremony honoring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL football team for their Super Bowl LV Championship on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 20, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (C) takes a hit from Charles Woodson (R) of the Oakland Raiders on a pass attempt in the last two minutes of the game in their AFC playoff 19 January 2002 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 16-13 in overtime. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick (R) after their win over the St. Louis Rams 03 February, 2002 in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Patriots defeated the Rams 20-17 for the NFL championship. AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)