The New York Jets were one of only five teams to have a winning record against the future Hall-of-Fame thrower, including a playoff triumph.
On Sunday afternoon, Drew Brees announced his retirement, ending a 20-year career that began with the San Diego Chargers (2001-05) and ended with the New Orleans Saints (2006-20). Countless accolades and honors follow Brees into retirement, including a championship ring and MVP Award from Super Bowl XLIV. Induction into Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame more than likely awaits.
Despite their lack of championship success during Brees’ reign, the Jets were one of the few teams that managed to have his number, as they were one of five teams to own a winning record against his squads (4-3, including postseason). Jet X looks back at Brees’ endeavors against green metropolitan opponents.
11/3/02: Buzzed Out
Seven starts into his NFL career, Brees was riding high after San Diego’s open date. The Chargers were sitting at 6-1 and had just earned an overtime triumph over the future AFC champion from Oakland when they welcomed in the Jets to Qualcomm Stadium. But New York subjected them to a rude awakening through a 44-13 shellacking that changed the course of the season for both teams. Brees was forced into two interceptions (Donnie Abraham and James Darling) and was victimized for sacks by Josh Evans and Ray Mickens.
The Jets’ victory was the first of four in a row that culminated in an AFC East title. San Diego never recovered, as the loss started a 2-7 stretch that led to them missing the playoffs entirely.
9/19/04: Hall of Fame Game
The fortunes of two future Hall of Famers took drastically different turns in early 2004 meetings. While Curtis Martin (119 yards, two scores) became the Jets’ all-time leading rusher, Brees was forced to leave the game after sustaining a concussion through a penalized helmet-to-helmet hit from Jon McGraw. The Jets victimized Brees for two interceptions (McGraw and Erik Coleman) before he was relieved by Doug Flutie in what became a 24-14 Jets victory.
1/8/05: Stay Passy, San Diego
Brees missed no games after the concussion and was able to set up a January rematch with the Jets through an AFC West title. What ensued was one of the most thrilling Wild Card matchups of the decade, one nearly defined by New York heartbreak. San Diego’s comeback from a 17-7 deficit appeared to go for naught when Brees’ goal-line pass to Antonio Gates fell incomplete, but a roughing penalty from Eric Barton allowed him one more chance. Brees took full advantage, this time finding Gates for a one-yard score that sent the game into overtime.
On San Diego’s second extra possession, Brees got the Chargers at the cusp of the red zone, but rookie kicker Nate Kaeding missed a 40-yard winner. Chad Pennington took care of the rest, setting up Doug Brien for the winning score of a 20-17 final. Earlier in the game, a potential Brees scoring drive was thwarted by a Coleman deflection, as a pass to Keenan McCardell in Jets territory landed in hands of Reggie Tongue.
11/6/05: With A Little Help from San Diegans
Revenge was a dish served lukewarm, as Brees finally bested the Jets in a 31-26 final on an uncharacteristic afternoon in the 60s at Giants Stadium. LaDanian Tomlinson helped Brees take advantage, scoring touchdowns on each of the Chargers’ first three possessions, including a 25-yard passing hookup on the second.
The Jets came close to subjecting Brees to yet another heartbreaking defeat, as John Abraham‘s forced fumble on a sack was recovered by Jonathan Vilma with just over three minutes to go in the final frame. However, the winning drive was stopped three yards away from the end zone when Quentin Jammer successfully defended a Brooks Bollinger pass intended for Justin McCareins.
10/4/09: Super Bowl Saint Happening
The Week 4 matchup between the Jets and Saints was so close to serving as a Super Bowl preview, especially when the former came dangerously close to appearing in the Big Game. New Orleans wound up prevailing 24-10 in this battle of infantile unbeatens (both entered 3-0), but the Jets did what they could to hold Brees in check. He was held to 190 yards passing and did not throw a touchdown pass, one of only two games in that championship season where he failed to earn a scoring toss. It was also, however, the only time the Jets did not victimize Brees with an interception.
11/3/13: Set the Pace
The Jets’ final win over Brees came through a defensive showcase at MetLife Stadium. New Orleans jumped out to an early lead, but a pair of Brees interceptions, the lucky parties being Antonio Cromartie and future Saint Demario Davis, helped erase an early 14-6 deficit. Calvin Pace had a sack and a forced fumble while Muhammad Wilkerson also took Brees down.
12/17/17: Breesy Going
The last and most recent meeting between Brees and the Jets came in 2017 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Brees put up 281 yards and two scores in a 31-19 victory, but not before Leonard Williams victimized him for one final Jets interception.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags