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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was only fitting that Tom Brady would become the NFL’s all-time passing leader on a night where he faced his former team.

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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.

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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.

Statistics from Pro-Football were used in compiling this report.