In 2008, the Atlanta Falcons drafted Matt Ryan with the number three overall pick. In 2006, the New Orleans Saints acquired Drew Brees from San Diego. During both player’s duration with their team, there have been really really high moments and really dark lows. Some darker than others.
However, the rivalry of Atlanta Falcons vs the New Orleans Saints has been one of the most competitive in the league. The only time since 2008 where one team purely dominated was a 45-16 New Orleans win in 2011. The Falcons led 10-7 after the first quarter in that game. Yikes.
With that being said. let’s get one point out of the way. Yes, Matt Ryan is elite and should be in the same conversation as Drew Brees. I can already hear the Ryan haters shaking their heads in disgust. But, it’s the truth.
Matt Ryan and Drew Brees have faced off 22 times in their careers. This is the most time ever that two quarterbacks have faced off against each other. For comparison, many regard Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning as the greatest quarterback battle ever, as they should too. Those games usually had major playoff/super bowl implications.
They faced each other 17 times over the course of 16 years until Manning’s retirement in 2016. Brady went 8-4 against Manning when he played for the Colts. Then he also went 3-2 against Manning when he played for Denver. Four times Brady and Manning met in the AFC Championship Game. Manning owns him there 3-1.
Matt Ryan and Drew Brees have been battling for what will be 12 years after this season. Chris Redman filled in for an injured Matt Ryan in 2009. The Falcons and Saints have never met in the postseason since these two quarterbacks joined. However, imagine the atmosphere surrounding that game.
Since 2008, Brees leads the Ryan vs Brees battles 13-9. There have been some highlight moments like Brees’s five-interception game in 2012 or when Ryan threw three interceptions in 2017 and still found a way to win the game. However, those two stats take a back seat to the others.
Brees has accumulated 6,901 yards vs Ryan’s 6,536 yards in total. Both quarterbacks almost mirror their touchdown total with 41 for Ryan and 42 for Brees. However, Brees’s five-interception game in 2012 has skewed his interception total in the series. Brees has 25, while Ryan has only 14.
The only other active, long-standing quarterback battle has been between Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. Both matchups have similar parallels. Two of the most underrated elite quarterbacks against their biggest, highly rated rivals.
Atlanta Falcons fans can still truly hate the Saints with a passion. However, we must still appreciate this long-standing duel between Ryan and Brees. Brees, 40, doesn’t have much longer in the league. Ryan, 34, will be following right behind him in a few years. While both still produce at league-leading levels, their play will inevitably dip and so with the longest quarterback duel in NFL history.