For the second time in three months, one of the NFL's top-five quarterbacks in career passing yards has called it a career.
On Sunday, Drew Brees joined Philip Rivers in announcing his retirement, ending a prolific 20-year career. The former Charger and Saint finishes his time in the NFL with the most career passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns in league history.
Naturally, the Broncos have had many great duels with Brees over the years, beginning with his time in San Diego and continuing well into his stint in New Orleans.
The Broncos were fortunate enough to come out on top in eight of the 10 games Brees started against Denver, but they were often close calls. These three games were the closest wins the Broncos notched against the future Hall of Famer, including one of the most memorable nail-biters in recent team history.
Broncos 20, Saints 17: Week 2, 2005 season
This was far from Brees' finest performance, but it was a memorable game. LaDainian Tomlinson scored two first-half touchdowns as Denver fell behind 14-3. And then one future Hall of Famer picked off another and changed the game, as Champ Bailey returned an interception off Brees for a touchdown. Then, in the fourth quarter, with the game locked at 17 points apiece, running back Ron Dayne helped lead Denver downfield in the final minutes. With mere seconds remaining, Jason Elam hit the game-winning field goal.
Broncos 34, Saints 32: Week 3, 2008 season
Against quarterbacks like Brees, no lead seems safe. The Broncos nearly learned that the hard way after jumping out to a 21-3 lead in the second quarter behind two Jay Cutler touchdown throws and a fumble returned for a score. By halftime, the Broncos' lead was cut to just five points. Denver rebounded in the third quarter to pad their lead a little, but Brees, in the midst of a 421-yard passing day, drove the Saints to a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. His pass on a two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete, but he soon put New Orleans back in scoring position, now just down two points. The Saints reached the Denver's 25-yard line by the two-minute warning, but Martín Gramática's 43-yard field goal sailed wide right and the Broncos held on.
Broncos 25, Saints 23: Week 10, 2016 season
In front of more than 73,000 fans in a raucous atmosphere at the Superdome, the Broncos brought a little Mile High magic to the low-lying Crescent City. Brees led the Saints to a 17-10 lead through three quarters, but Trevor Siemian got the best of New Orleans' defense in the fourth quarter by throwing for a touchdown and leading two other scoring drives to give Denver a six-point lead. But Brees had more than enough time and led the Saints on a tying touchdown drive in little more than a minute. But as kicker Wil Lutz strode forward to kick the extra point to put New Orleans on top, Broncos safety Justin Simmons leapt over the line to block the kick. Will Parks picked up the loose ball and returned it for a defensive two-point conversion to give Denver the win.
Below the Fold
There's been a lot of talk of the Broncos potentially trading down in the upcoming NFL Draft, as Denver did in 2018. If that's the case, Ryan O’Halloran writes for The Denver Post, perhaps Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome could be worth a look. "Newsome said the Broncos are one of the teams he has already met with virtually," O'Halloran writes, "which makes sense because general manager George Paton is in the market for cornerback help and if he trades down from No. 9, Newsome can be an option."