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NFL: Drew Brees passes Peyton Manning’s all-time mark

Before Drew Brees could blow kisses to the adoring Superdome crowd, before he could embrace his wife and children on the sideline, the Saints’ 39-year-old quarterback had to shred one of the NFL’s top pass defenses with ruthless efficiency.

And so he did.

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Brees passed Peyton Manning to become the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing with a 62-yard touchdown to rookie Tre’Quan Smith on Monday night that sent New Orleans on its way to a lopsided 43-19 victory over the mistake-prone Washington Redskins.

“It’s hard for me to reflect too much right now just because my career’s not done. There are still goals to be accomplished. There are still challenges to be met. And so I’m still very focused on that,” Brees said. “And yet, when something like this happens, there are so many people who are responsible for that, that are a part of that, that makes me happy. It makes me proud and it makes me extremely grateful — extremely grateful for the opportunity to play this game, to play it as long as I’ve played it, to have wound up here in New Orleans.

“It’s just been an unbelievable journey.”

Brees entered the game needing 201 yards to eclipse Manning’s mark of 71,940 yards. He had 250 yards and two touchdowns by halftime and finished 26 for 29 for 363 yards and three touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception this season. He did, however, make his eighth career reception on his own deflected pass, and pushed across the line of scrimmage to add an extra yard to his career total.

“He throws for 5,000 yards just like he’s sleeping at night, and it’s crazy to see that,” Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said. “He’s at the top of them all right now — and he’s not done yet.”

The Saints’ Smith, a third-round draft choice last spring, caught two touchdown passes from the 18th-year pro. Brees also hit Smith for a 35-yard score down the right sideline early in the third quarter.

Any hope Washington had of coming back was all but snuffed out when Justin Hardee, a special teams regular who was in the game because of Marshon Lattimore’s concussion symptoms, snagged Alex Smith’s underthrown pass at the Saints’ 19-yard line and returned his first career interception to the Washington 4.

That set up change-of-pace QB Taysom Hill’s one-yard touchdown run that put the Saints (4-1) up 40-13.

Smith completed 23 of 39 passes for 275 yards for the Redskins (2-2). He ran for a short touchdown late in the first half that pulled Washington within 26-13.

Running back Mark Ingram, playing in his first game this season after serving a four-game suspension, scored two touchdowns on two- and one-yard runs in the first half. He finished with 53 yards rushing and 20 receiving.

“It’s great to have him back,” coach Sean Payton said, stressing that Ingram’s presence reduces the toll on Alvin Kamara. “That combination — those are two real good running backs.”

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