Drew Brees, once considered too short to be an elite professional quarterback, surpassed Peyton Manning for the most career touchdown passes in N.F.L. history as he led the New Orleans Saints to a rout of the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.
Brees threw four touchdown passes to reach 541 in his career, two more than Manning finished with before retiring after the 2015 season.
The record-setter came on a 5-yard pass from Brees to Josh Hill midway through the third quarter of a 34-7 Saints victory over Manning’s original team, the Colts.
New England’s Tom Brady, who has 538 career touchdowns and six Super Bowl rings, tweeted his congratulations to Brees and said he looked forward to trying to eclipse his record.
Brees, 40, has been putting up gaudy statistics after missing five games early in the season because of a thumb injury that required surgery.
He entered Monday night’s game already owning the record for most career passing yards, which he wrested from Manning last season, also on a Monday night.
Selected in the second round of the 2001 N.F.L. draft by the San Diego Chargers out of Purdue University, the 6-foot Brees faced questions from scouts about his ability to see receivers and to pick up blitzes inside the pocket.
But he earned the starting job by his second season with San Diego and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2004. A torn rotator cuff and labrum cast doubt on his future, however, as did the presence of Philip Rivers, whom the Chargers had acquired in a 2004 draft-day trade that sent Eli Manning to the Giants. In 2006, Brees signed with the Saints as a free agent.
Brees and Peyton Manning, a New Orleans native, have been linked in several ways through. The Saints’ lone Super Bowl win came 10 years ago, when Brees’s team defeated Manning’s Colts in the title game.
Brees also set a single-game completion percentage (in a game with a minimum of 20 attempts) on Monday night with a 96.7 percent performance, according to the Saints. He completed 29 of his 30 passes for 307 yards. At one point, Brees completed 22 consecutive passes. The N.F.L. record is 25.
The Saints are tied with the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers for the best record in the NFC at 11-3.